Flex is next: Putting employees at ease is key to RTO success

Britta Schellenberg
Britta Schellenberg

Shavasana is one of my favorite yoga poses. It’s a pose of ease and calm, the kind of calm employers should be providing employees with as part of their RTO plans. 

Calmer employees are more productive and also provide customers with calm, relaxing experiences. As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you. 

Feel free to let me know what YOU think. 

Let’s get the conversation started.

Robin Co-Founder: The “New Deal” for RTO

Our co-founder and VP of Customer Service Zach Dunn was recently interviewed by tech news outlet BetaNews, where he shared an essential insight about RTO plans: 

“Rather than forcing workers to trudge to the office everyday, many forward-looking businesses... realize employees want flexibility and input on how and where they work.”

Hybrid work offers a new deal, a more flexible employee experience and companies would be remiss to ignore this big shift in workplace experience. 

“The hybrid work model is employers' acknowledgement that we can improve upon the traditional office model to create better work-life integration,” says Zach. 

“We have the technology to improve workers' engagement and productivity, so why not use them? The overall goal is to eliminate friction from the office and remote experiences to enable people to perform at their top level.”

“Go Slow”: How to Remove the Stress from RTO 

In yoga, we begin with simple poses to help the body transition to working harder. A terrific story from ABC News, Make Returning to the Office Less Painful, is loaded with great insights on how your RTO plans can put people at ease. 

"We [all] need to ease into it," says Dr. Victor Carrión, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford. "There's going to be this impetus to completely return back to normal, but the reality is that life is different now.” 

“Go slow” is the article’s primary RTO tip. Gradual re-entry will be far better than forcing people into the office four days during their first week of hybrid work. 

Every employee and organization is different — it’s best to experiment and see what works for individuals, teams, and the business, while being prepared to pivot as needed. 

"There isn’t one solution for everyone," Carrión says, “you may have to tailor approaches to different individuals and create environments in the workplace that are supportive” and flexible.

CNN: No “Return to Normal” for Workers 

The headline of a recent CNN article says it all: “American workers don't want to go back to normal, and that makes sense.” The article notes that the long pandemic forced everyone to re-order family and work obligations in ways that won’t revert to pre-pandemic “normalcy.” 

We’re seeing two powerful forces emerging:  

  1. A record number of job openings
  2. A record number of employees leaving their existing jobs.

That’s a “churn tsunami.”

“More people are quitting their jobs than any time in the past 20 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's a sign of confidence in finding a new job as millions look for better opportunities in new industries,” says CNN. 

The article closes by stressing the need for employer flexibility in a context of ongoing uncertainty: “there’s no blueprint for what happens next.”

Forbes: 3 Questions to Avoid “The Big Quit”

Forbes published a read-worthy article on how companies can avoid falling victim to “the big quit” as they roll out RTO plans. 

For “my-way-or-the-highway” leaders who think they can force employees back into the office, we have some bad news: millions of professionals are now choosing “the highway.” 

Leaders should ask themselves three questions, according to the article:

  1. Did productivity of this person/team fall during quarantine? Research shows that focus and productivity improved.
  2. Do I need employees in the office full-time to reap the benefits of the office? Many companies are embracing the 3-2 [hybrid] model of three days in the office, 2 days remote.
  3. Am I willing to lose employees due to my RTO/work policies? As discussed above, employees are serious about quitting in search of more workplace flexibility.

EX = CX: How Employee Experience Becomes Customer Experience 

At Robin, we put people before places because people drive your success and the customer experience your organization delivers. A recent survey shows a clear, direct link between the employee experience and the customer experience: 

“Dissatisfied employees are more than three times more likely than satisfied ones to say their feelings about day-to-day work experience negatively impact their productivity, and more than two times more likely to say their feelings negatively impact their ability to serve customers.”

“The direct path to creating a high quality customer experience is improving the employee experience,” says the CEO of the company conducting the survey.

Bottom line: happy employees lead to happy customers. Putting your employees at ease during the RTO transition may be the best move for your employees and customers alike.

Thank you for reading, and see you again in two weeks! In the meantime, do a shavasana pose, we’ve all got to find our inner peace somehow.