A wide shot of a large open-plan office room filled with rows of wood-topped tables serving as desks. Several people are seated at the tables and walking around in the background. Near the center of the picture are a red-haired woman sitting at a desk and a dark-haired, bearded man handing her a black folder. The woman is turned in her chair and looking up at the man with a smile; her desk holds an open laptop, some camera equipment, a water bottle, a cup of pens, a couple of rolls of tape, and a small wooden artist's model with poseable limbs. The man wears a messenger bag with the strap across his chest, and he holds several manila envelopes.
Data shows that 61% of workers now prefer to work remotely. However, not all businesses are suited for this. Here's how to create an attractive in-office work arrangement. — Getty Images/Anchiy

In the last couple of years, many companies have pushed for a post-pandemic return to the office. However, with 61% of workers wanting to work remotely indefinitely, and 49% being worried that returning to the office will negatively impact their work-life balance, returning to the office doesn't necessarily look the way it did pre-pandemic.

If your business is best suited for hybrid or in-office work, consider your employees' wants and concerns and implement a plan to help them adjust to this arrangement.

Create a realistic plan for in-office employees

Create and implement a plan that outlines all the details employees need to have a successful transition back into the workplace and moving forward. In the plan, cover any expectations you might have for employees, new policies, and other information your employees may need prior to arrival.

If you’ve created a schedule for hybrid or flexible work arrangements, detail these in the plan—whether you’re setting a specific in-office schedule for employees or allowing them to determine their own.

Offer accommodations to employees

The past few years have shifted priorities for many workers. More professionals are placing a greater value on work-life balance, time with their families, and managing health conditions. Returning to work after the pandemic might stir up anxiety, and employers should consider offering accommodations wherever needed.

For example, if an employee needs help with child care or more time to spend at home with their children, consider offering this as a company-wide benefit. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable coming to work because of a preexisting health condition, provide a fair opportunity for them to work remotely.

Listen to employees’ concerns

Many employees will feel hesitant to return to the office, so be sure to check in with them regularly. Consider scheduling meetings (company-wide and one-on-ones) with employees so they feel heard and supported. Listen to their concerns about returning to the office and address them accordingly.

Additionally, if employees provide feedback about your return-to-work plan, take it to heart and try to implement it. Make the return a collaborative effort so employees feel they have a say in their work environment.

[Read more: 6 Best Practices For Easing Return-to-Office Anxiety]

Returning to work after the pandemic might stir up anxiety, and employers should consider offering accommodations wherever needed.

Communicate consistently

Ongoing communication is a must when returning to the office. Odds are, expectations and policies will change along the way. Continue communicating these changes to your employees so they know where they stand and what to expect. Instill in them that communication is a two-way street. Any time an employee has a concern, let them know you’re open to addressing it with them. No worker should feel like they’re walking on eggshells or battling anxiety in the workplace.

Transparent communication will eliminate any potential issues. Ask the right questions and be willing to really hear their responses without growing defensive.

Incentivize workers to be present in the office

Make the experience of working in the office more enjoyable by investing in social outings and downtime during the day. Show you care about and value your employees by taking them out for lunch as a team, hosting office birthday parties, buying bagels and fruit every Friday, or taking other similar actions.

Also, let them decide when they need a break and really give them space at that time. For instance, if an employee wants to take an hour for lunch, allow them to leave the office to visit their favorite restaurant down the street or let them read a book in the office lounge before returning to work. Encourage them to take walks, host exercise classes to fight the afternoon slump, and give them more autonomy over their workdays.

[Read more: Incentives to Get Employees Back to the Office]

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