With many companies looking to return to work in the next few months, working parents wonder what return-to-office plans look like. As we’ve seen in recent months, the pandemic has provided all employees with more flexibility and autonomy over their work schedules than ever before. This has been welcomed by many, especially those employees who have children at home. It proved that there isn’t a rulebook on where employees can work.
Hybrid work schedules and flexibility are the main priority for working parents when looking to return to the office. This could cause many employers to scrap their original return-to-office plan in favor of one that accurately represents the changes that many employees have experienced in their lives since the pandemic began.
If you’re an employer or HR manager, you may be wondering what is the best way to create a workplace return plan that will address your employees’ needs. Below, we will look at the return-to-work plans that great companies such as Google, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs are planning to put in place to make sure that returning to the office is seamless for all employees.
Employees Are Looking Forward to a Return to Office – But Not As Much As Before
Employees are anxious to know how a return-to-work plan will affect their personal and family lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has given them a taste of greater flexibility in being able to work from home, saving time and money on commutes, and being more available to their kids. Nearly 30% of working professionals have cited that they would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full-time to foster a better work-life balance.
Unfortunately for employers, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for planning a return to the workplace program that will satisfy every employee. Instead, each company must be willing to take the lessons they learned during the pandemic and apply them to create a long-term workplace environment that will benefit their employees’ productivity, satisfaction, and wellbeing best.
Creating a Return to the Workplace Plan: What Google and Others Are Getting Right
While each employer’s roadmap for reopening their office will be dependent on the needs of their employees, taking notes on how other companies are planning to return can set the tone for your own company.
In recent months, many high-profile companies such as Google, Amazon, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs have been releasing updated plans on how they will transition employees back to the office.
For example, Amazon is expecting nearly all of its technical and corporate employees to return to the workplace fully by July, 1st 2021. Facebook has decided to take a more measured approach and is phasing its employees back in – but also expects that half of its employees will work remotely by 2030. While other companies such as Twitter and Slack have announced that they will be shifting to a remote work model for good.
What these companies are getting right is that they are listening and adapting to both their employees’ needs and also, creating a post-pandemic work environment that will benefit their company most. For some of these companies, that means offering a hybrid work schedule that honors the benefits that both the office and remote locations can provide.
Being in the office reinforces a company’s culture while also improving innovation and engagement. It is clear to see that having in-person interactions is beneficial to help employees foster rewarding social workplace relationships and boosts learning opportunities. However, it is also hard to deny that productivity levels while working remotely are just as high as they were pre-pandemic. Not to mention the flexibility benefits it has provided working parents.
Overall, these companies are creating a return to the office plan that offers choice and flexibility – an act that displays empathy and can improve engagement and productivity levels.
Practical Return to Work Considerations For Employers: How to Invest in Working Parents
A return to the workplace is going to be most stressful for working parents and employers need to be prepared to acknowledge this adequately. How can they do this? By ensuring that the post-pandemic workplace they create invests in this cohort of the workforce.
For those employees without children, a return to the office plan simply involves them having to start commuting again. For working parents, it means coordinating their work schedule with their spouse’s and their child’s school or child care needs. They may need to enroll their child back into a childcare program or find a nanny. These factors require planning and can cause stress.
Employers can remove these obstacles for working parents by shifting the future of their workplace to one that centers on supporting parents and caregivers with child care benefits. Companies must be prepared to support a gradual return to the office for working parents in practical ways. These may include offering a more robust family leave policy or assisting a family in finding an in-home child care program.
In addition to providing family-friendly benefits such as employer-sponsored child care assistance programs, companies must also:
- Lead by example: Encourage managers and company leaders to share their stories (good or bad) about working remotely while looking after kids. This will create a company culture of empathy and compassion which will resonate greatly with employees that are working parents.
- Offer flexi-time: Allow employees to continue working on a flexi-time schedule while they navigate a partial return to the workplace. A return to the office for many employees, especially working mothers may be determined on when their child gets vaccinated. This should be acknowledged during a return to the workplace roadmap.
- Focus on high-priority meetings only: The pandemic highlighted the need for all employees to have breaks from meetings during the work week so that they can allocate their hours effectively to both their job and family responsibilities. Continuing this going forward will ensure that an employee’s time is used effectively.
- Offer employee-to-employee support: In conjunction with an employee parenting resource group, create a platform where working parents can share support, stories, and helpful resources as they navigate a return to the workplace in a post-pandemic world.
Great companies that factor in resources and policies that invest in and support working parents as part of their return to office roadmap will undoubtedly experience a higher engagement level and therefore, a greater ROI.
Navigating the post-pandemic workplace return will be just as precarious as switching to the full remote-work model was at the beginning of last year. So, make sure that your reopening plan reflects the needs of employees’ lives as it stands right now.
How Vivvi Helps Employers Support Working Parents
Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes to make high-quality full-time and backup child care programs more accessible and affordable. We provide flexible early childhood learning services in your offices, or through in-home care and virtual care. Vivvi meets the needs of your business and employees where you are.
To learn more about the benefits and ROI our child care services have provided to businesses like yours, visit our employer page.