The Results Are In: Two-Thirds Say Workforce Dynamics Will Be Worse When Employees Return to the Office

While some businesses eye the return of in-person workers after the COVID-19 pandemic, a question remains: will businesses be able to simply return to pre-March 2020 norms? According to a Gartner CFO survey, 74% of businesses plan to permanently shift some of their employees to remote work after the pandemic ends. However, those who are returning to the physical office will once again deal with workplace dynamics and in-person relationships between co-workers.

In a recent poll by Refresh Leadership, readers were asked “As employees return to the workplace, do you think the overall workplace dynamics and interpersonal relationships will be better or worse than prior to the pandemic.” More than two-thirds (66%) of respondents said they expect dynamics to be worse, while only 22% believe it will be better. Twelve percent of respondents expect no change.

In a follow-up question, respondents were asked “Why you think overall workplace dynamics and interpersonal relationships will be better or worse than prior to the pandemic?” The answers showed how workers feel about employers ending remote-work opportunities, as well as the importance of understanding one another. Specifically, a few responses explained that the workplace has changed and companies who are reverting back to pre-March 2020 norms may have issues in the future. A few of the responses include:

“I think everyone has been very comfortable in their own little bubble. It will take more work from leadership to rebuild a strong support team. It will be harder to compete for good employees, many have enjoyed working from home and do not want to give it up.”

“We liked working at home and proved we could be successful. It was quiet and easy to get work accomplished without noise and interruptions. Management wants us back in our seats, and I suppose some will feel resentful. In our four quads, we now will get back to four separate meetings within a 12 x12 space, neighbors will chew ice, and other noisy behaviors will drive us crazy. Management will shut their office doors except to peer out and make sure butts are in seats again. We have been able to see our families more since we don’t have a commute. We have saved money since we aren’t eating out and buying new clothes. We have accomplished more work than ever since we can’t just shut off the PC and leave the building. I believe companies will be wondering if they should have opted for more flexible schedules for those who proved themselves worthy. I believe workers will leave opting for remote work. #thebigshift”

“There has been a paradigm shift in what employees want and need. Prior to the pandemic, they were willing to work long hours and give beyond the expectation for the next level. However, post pandemic, the shift in mindset that life is short, family is more important, and they would rather work in a way that fits in with their personal life, not the other way around.”

Building Culture Within Your Workforce

As some companies utilize a hybrid workforce with some people working in-office while others work remotely, leaders must focus on building culture, maintaining morale, and increasing open communication between employees. To ensure interpersonal relationships and workplace dynamics stay positive in the workforce, consider opening the lines of communication to determine what works best for your employees. While some thrive in an office setting, others may be more productive from home. Check out these Refresh Leadership articles for more information about remote work.

How do you plan to return employees back to the office? What will you do to ensure better workplace dynamics? Let us know in the comments section below!

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