How to convince reluctant employees to return to the office

Covid lockdowns may be a thing of the past but remote working is here to stay. Many workers are now so used to the benefits of working from home that – regardless of their companies’ insistence – they’re flatly refusing to return to a traditional, nine-to-five arrangement.


If you’re concerned about the potentially negative impact of WFH, you’re not alone. Many companies argue that employee collaboration, connection, innovation, and productivity – as well as company culture – take a big hit when workers operate exclusively on a remote basis.


Fortunately, there are things you can do to entice even your most reluctant workers back to the office. According to Zentura Workspace, a successful outcome can be achieved by following the steps outlined below.

  1. First up, you need clarity on why you’d like your staff to return to the office. Is it to promote your company culture or drive employee engagement, creativity, and collaboration? Perhaps staff productivity, loyalty, and retention are an issue?
  2. Find out what’s preventing your staff from cooperating. Is it an aversion to the daily commute or a fear of having to relinquish autonomy to blame? Are caregiving responsibilities, e.g. the school run, the biggest obstacle? Perhaps concerns over wellbeing and work/life balance lie at the heart of the matter.
  3. Next up, you need to consider which working model – remote, hybrid, or on-site – best addresses your goals as an employer as well as the needs and desires of your workforce.

A remote working model will free up your office rental budget so if you’re looking to cut costs – and your workforce is good at working independently – this may be your best option. On-site working, on the other hand, works best when staff need to collaborate closely. Add in the need for a strong corporate culture and on-site working is the obvious choice.

However, the most popular working model today is hybrid working. Combining the benefits of WFH with the advantages of the in-office model, it wins the most votes from employees and employers alike. Productivity, engagement, teamwork, innovation, wellbeing, a good work/life balance, autonomy, and flexibility all have a place at the hybrid working table.

  1. Ask staff for their input at all stages of the decision-making process. When you arrive at your decision, clearly communicate it – and your rationale – as early as possible. This will go a long way to reducing resistance and securing buy-in.
  2. Highlight the positives. Remind staff how much they enjoyed all those impromptu chats around the water cooler, the team lunches, and the after-work drinks. Promote the team building, collaboration, and innovation benefits of sharing a physical space with colleagues. Be a cheerleader for banishing unwelcome non-work distractions like emptying the dishwasher!
  3. Assuming that you’ve chosen the hybrid or on-site working model, adapt your office space to optimise all the aforementioned benefits. Provide closed-off spaces that lend themselves to focused, individual work. Offer breakout areas that promote collaborative working. Provide meeting rooms that have the technology necessary to optimise remote participation. Make your space reflect your brand values and culture. Consider your colour, natural light, and air quality choices carefully.

Offering employees a truly great office space delivers powerful benefits in terms of engagement, productivity, collaboration, innovation, and more besides. And, if the transition is managed correctly, a revitalised (or brand new) office space could turn out to be the most persuasive tool in your campaign to get your staff back through the door.


ABL Recruitment, your trusted recruitment partner, wishes you the very best of luck with the challenge! If you’d like any help sourcing great job candidates to dazzle with the results, please get in touch. We have over three decades of experience matching talented, pre-vetted job seekers to open vacancies. We know who they are and we know how to reach them. Thanks to bulk discounts, we’ll also save you money on your job adverts. In terms of the benefits of working with us, this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Please read our Why office design matters article to further explore this important topic.


To learn more about how we can save you time and money in your talent search, and help you secure great hiring outcomes, please call us on 020 7092 3911 or email us at today!