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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Businesses face the challenge of persuading staff to return to the office

Employers who would like to get their staff back to the office on a voluntary basis are facing resistance, with travelling costs a major obstacle.

Research from YouGov and management solutions company Emburse found 68 per cent of British workers would return to the office full-time if their commuting costs were paid for in full, but 27 per cent said they wouldn’t return even if costs were covered.

The survey also found that the offer of a four-day week was the most popular incentive at 59 per cent, while 51 per cent could be tempted by more paid holidays.

While employers can insist on workers returning to the office, there is the risk they could lose top quality staff, who would be prepared to move on to other employers who could guarantee home or at least ‘hybrid’ working.

At a time when the cost of living is at the highest level in decades, it follows that few workers will be unhappy with the return of commuting costs.

Different commuting patterns and distances involved would vary dramatically from one worker to another depending on distance and working location, and then there is also the impact of taxation on such payments to consider too.

Employers could offer incentives to attract staff back, which could include:

Making the office a pleasant place to be

Having a pleasantly designed interior and exterior gives staff places to unwind. This could include a brightly decorated interior or even a garden area to relax during breaks. Everything from the choice of colours and furniture plays a role in persuading staff to return.

Subsidised meals

Another benefit that might be offered is covering the costs of lunches. Although again there could be taxation issues involved here.

Keep up with technology
The latest technology attracts the best staff and is more efficient. Faulty equipment can be costly, slows down operations and demotivates staff.

Maintain a clean environment
The coronavirus outbreak has shown the necessity for cleaning. Regular cleaning will lead to a more pleasant environment while cutting the risks of contracting infections. Also, make sure shared areas like toilets and kitchen need to be cleaned regularly.

Emburse’s general manager and senior vice president EMEA Kenny Eon added that businesses should do their best to ease financial concerns of their employees during the cost of living crisis.

He said: “Given the sharp increase in the cost of living, businesses should consider how they can support staff by reducing the financial burden of attending the office in person. Reimbursing travel and lunches can certainly help do this. ”

For help and advice on matters relating to employment law, contact our expert team today.

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