Get Employees Back to the Office without the Struggle

Published 24th July 2023

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Managers find there is a gap between the attitude and expectations of such employees and the reality of the workplace and the needs of the business.

If your business was never fully onboard with remote or hybrid working or you’ve given it a go and it’s not what your business needs, you may be thinking about trying to get your people ‘back to the office’.


Remote and hybrid working is not right for my business model.

Knowing where to start can be daunting, especially if you anticipate resistance from employees who enjoy and value the current working arrangements.

Read three helpful points your business needs to know:

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Be Alert

Bear in mind that if your employees have a contractual right to remote/hybrid working simply notifying them that they ‘need to get back to the office’, will be a high-risk strategy – it could result in claims such as constructive unfair dismissal.

This could also be the case if an employee can argue that they have the right to remote/hybrid working through custom and practice.

It will come as no surprise that there’s also the employee relations element to consider more generally.

Such an approach may well lead to employee dissatisfaction, disengagement and ultimately, you could lose good people you would have wished to retain.

This doesn’t mean that your business is stuck with your current arrangements  – there are steps that you can take, but it’s important that you think carefully first about what the best approach is for your business.

As part of this,  be alert to specific issues your business may need to consider, such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee.

Think Tactfully

Many businesses start with a ‘carrot approach’,  tempting employees back to the office by agreement, by making office life look as attractive as possible.

Thinking about what your people would value – and what would be reasonable and appropriate for your business – can help you to identify targeted steps that may do the trick.

Want to know what your employees would really value? A staff survey could give you some key insights and help to save you time and money.

Getting ‘tough’

If the carrot approach doesn’t work, or it’s not an option your business is willing or able to try, then a more formal route will be needed.

The first step for most businesses will be to put together a solid business case for the proposed return to full office working – the reasons will need to be clearly and carefully identified.

Depending on the facts of your situation, a redundancy process or a contract variation process will usually need to be followed.

As making a misstep can prove costly, it’s vital to seek expert business-focused advice before acting. We can provide situation-specific advice and support to help your business meet its goals.

We can also discuss more commercial routes that may be available to you, ensuring you are aware of the options your business has when it comes to getting your people back to the office.


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