Back to Office: Keeping the Blues at Bay

The Covid pandemic changed the course of the world. Having said that, it has tremendously changed how offices and employees continued to work during that phase, and are still continuing to work now as the pandemic is slowly receding. Many companies are eager to have their employees back in office. However, the transition back to office to work in-person is showing signs of big challenges. This is due to many factors. Companies need to be aware of them to ensure a smooth transition back to office for their employees.

One of the main reasons why employees are reluctant to go back to the office is because remote work has become the new normal. It comes with its own set of advantages, like flexibility, less or zero time spent in commuting and expenses for work, established work space at home, etc. Asking the employees to give up on this newfound working environment and structure for getting back to office is proving to be a hard sell. Moreover, the benefits of working remotely are too high to be given up easily. There is better work-life balance in many cases, thus promoting better productivity.

There is a huge disparity in how leadership and employees view work from home model. Although most of the work went on seamlessly during the pandemic phase, leadership of many companies now think that it is slowly time to get back to office. On the other hand, employees feel too comfortable in the niche they have found during the pandemic and are reluctant to get back to office. Some employees who have faced pressure to move back to office have also resigned and found new jobs which are offering work from home. 

According to a C-Level LinkedIn research, 71% of Indian leaders thought that they prefer Indian employees to work from the office rather than from their home. However, a report by ADP Research Institute reveals that 76.07% of employees would rather have control over their flexibility and the benefits that come with working from home, and they are also willing to take a pay cut to be able to work from home further.

According to a global survey by, 66% of employers have made it compulsory for employees to work from the office, 90% of companies will need employees to be back to office in 2023, 21% of companies will fire workers who are not back to office. Moreover, 88% of companies are offering incentives to get employees to be back to office, including catered meals, commuter benefits, and higher pay.

Like global companies, Indian companies too are trying to adjust a little with the new normal. Mayur Taday, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Services Limited, says, “Companies are aware that employee engagement is crucial to their performance. As a result, they have been willing to add some flexibility to the equation. Occasionally working from home for an office job is acceptable, but only with permission.”

The younger lot is inclined towards working on a hybrid model, which is a mix of both going back to the office and working from home. This ensures that the employers’ demands are met, and at the same time, on certain days, they have the flexibility to tend to personal needs and family responsibilities, with a mix of productivity sprinkled with flexibility.

The senior level employers are more focused on being back to office so that they can drive the organisation goals and achieve maximum productivity and efficiency at work.

Hybrid work model could be the future as a LinkedIn research revealed that 82% of Indian leaders thought that hybrid work model is here to stay, and that going back to office will not be similar to how it was prior to the pandemic. It will vary between industries and organisations, with some companies putting the target at 4 days a week, 3 days a week, 2 days a week, 1 day a week, a few times in every month, 1 time in every month, and so on. “We don’t see a world where employees return to the office five days a week. For now, it’s one or two days with an emphasis on flexibility,” says Chad Herring, CHRO, Zoominfo, a software and data company.

What is the way ahead?

  • Communicate clearly: Employers of companies should clearly communicate the intention behind them wanting employees back to office. They should have the safety protocols in place if they are expecting employees to be back to office, as the pandemic is not completely over yet. This will help ease employee concerns and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Be flexible: Employers need to be flexible. They should offer flexibility to employees to work from home if necessary. This will show that the employers care about their wellbeing as well.
  • Offer incentives: Employers need to look at incentivising the employees who are willing to be back to office. They can be given gym memberships, free meals, and even a hike in their salary would be awesome.

The year 2023 will witness a lot of experimentation in terms of work from home, hybrid work model, and being back to office. Some will settle down faster, while others will take a longer time owing to their multi locational units, multi job roles, multi grades and cadres, multi objectives and goals, and expectation will keep changing with the times. It is up to the employers to make the employees feel valued and at ease to result in good and consistent productivity and efficacy.

Reference: Business Insider India, Companies want their employees back to office, but it is turning out to be difficult, March 20 (2023)

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