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What To Do When Some of Your Employees Refuse to Return to the Office

The Covid-19 pandemic has upended normal business practices in more ways than one. The most striking effect has been normalising working from home.

Last year, working from home doubled compared to 2019, with 25.9% working outside the office.

As nearly 40% of businesses now want their employees back in the office, this is inevitably going to cause rifts in workforces, as some staff want to retain their ability to work from home.

This is understandably a difficult situation to navigate, and you’ll have to balance your employees’ well-being with your business needs. 

Simplify ER has years of experience with law help, and we’ve put together this guide to managing staff who do not wish to return to the office. If you’d like more advice on how to navigate this, contact us for personalised employment law help. 

Understanding Your Employees Concerns

While it’s easy to see things from a manager’s point of view, it’s important to understand why your staff may be reluctant to drop their working from home routine. 

Every individual will have a personal reason for preferring home working. Take time to hear your employees’ concerns, as you’ll be in a much better position to make decisions afterwards.  You should have a system built into your HR policy to handle staff concerns – seek employment law help if this isn’t the case.

Make Your Office Comfortable

Though you might not be able to alleviate all of your employees’ concerns, there is one place you can start, and that’s your office.

Some staff may be reluctant to return because of safety concerns. They may worry about keeping their distance from others in the office, especially if they live with vulnerable people they feel a duty to protect.

Any firm offering law help will tell you that you should seek to enact your employees’ suggestions if possible, and it may be easier than you think to make changes to your office.

Some changes you could implement include: 

  • Barriers between desks or re-arranging desks to ensure more space between them
  • Remove any face-to-face desks 
  • Use ‘fixed teams’ so staff only interact with a limited number of people 
  • Assign one desk to each staff member, and ensure they clean it regularly

Contact an employment law help service for more advice on ensuring your office adheres to governmental guidelines on Covid-19.

Evaluating WFH

Before you make any decisions about long-term working from home, you should evaluate how your business has fared over the last year. Have you maintained productivity? What percentage of your staff want to continue working from home? 

You don’t need to seek law help to answer these questions. Just spend a bit of time looking at how your company has performed and what benefits continued working from home might give you. There are lots of ways to implement hybrid working. An employment law help company can help you find the best dynamic for your company. However, you might consider a maximum of two days a week home working or limit staff to a certain number of hours per week. 

Disciplining Staff

So, what do you do if your staff are still refusing to come into the office?

Once you’ve decided on your future home working policy, you must clearly communicate this to your employees.  

You should be aware that though employees can request flexible working, they are not automatically entitled to it. If your business has a valid reason for not approving hybrid working arrangements, employment law help will say that’s enough. If you’re still unsure about managing staff that do not want to return to the office, then seek out law help. Simplify ER can offer personalised employment law help to make the move back to the office easy for everyone. 

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