"Encouraging employees back to the office will take a careful mix of incentives, and health and wellbeing support will be fundamental"
Prior to Covid-19, around one in eight working adults reported working from home. However, the pandemic saw a huge rise in this number as many companies were forced to shift to remote/hybrid working patterns to comply with social distancing. Although hybrid working is very much still in place, a majority of firms are now incentivising a return to the office.
According to the study, 30% of companies said that the majority of their staff split their working time between home and their usual place of work. The average company has 39% of its employees working on a hybrid basis, and this rises to 47% of employees among large companies. Just 14% of companies said they had no employees hybrid working.
However, 54% of employers revealed they are actively trying to encourage employees back to the office and utilising a variety of tactics including mandatory office days (29%), free meals and/or drinks (29%), and subsidised transport/commuting costs (24%).
Another widely adopted incentive is wellbeing, with 27% of respondents saying that they offer wellbeing days and 22% offering access to in-person counselling 22%.
Encouraging employees back to the office
Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, comments: “Encouraging employees back to the office will take a careful mix of incentives, and health and wellbeing support will be fundamental.”
With hybrid working now being the norm, these benefits will have to work hard to encourage people back, including appropriate support offered to different demographics of the workforce and to employees’ differing needs.
This means offering a wide range of options, covering all four pillars of health and wellbeing – physical, mental, social, and financial – to help the transition back to the workplace to be healthy, positive, and productive.
Supporting those who choose to stay home
As well as motivating employees to return to the office, health and wellbeing support will be vital for those employees who still choose to work from home.
Working from home can potentially bring with it a whole host of health and wellbeing issues. These can include musculoskeletal issues from not having a good work desk setup, to the mental pressures of isolation and lack of social contact. Employees may even be hit financially by the current high costs of heating their homes while they work. So support may be as diverse as virtual physio appointments, online counselling, and financial education; and this will need to be coupled with access to face-to-face support too.
Debra Clark concludes: “As working styles widen, employers will have to widen their health and wellbeing offering to match. This will be in terms of what they offer, and where. Information gathering will be key and varied methods of communication will be vital. Support will need to include a mix of remote and in-person, and we’re going to see an increase in the use of wellbeing platforms to make support easier to access too.”