Only 11.8% are back in offices. 87% do not want to return to how it was. How can this be solved?

Internal Communicating is going to have to change at some speed.

There is no greater driver of innovation than adversity. This has been particularly true in Hospitality as so many have adapted their models. Operators have responded with skill but the call now from many employees is “what is the plan? What is the vision of the future?”

The answer, of course, is difficult. There is no return to how things were pre Covid and all are learning what the new norm is. This does make it difficult for leaders to create a vision but what many do need is to once again feel connected, feel communicated to and feel leaders in control. Over 70% of employees do not believe that communication has been effective and this highlights the need for new structures and thinking. What worked before is not working now – so what is needed now to be effective?

Communications is a major new battleground. Many employees have taken notice that they can work from home, have enjoyed their freedom and greater family time found. This has led to a new dynamic in many companies where leaders, senior execs are returning to offices and joined by the most junior employees who are hungry to build their careers. This is naturally leading to new relationships being formed which may prove to be the basis of some surprising change to emerge.

Companies are ready and braced for the challenges to be faced with those in middle ranking levels who do not want to return or at least, create a new format or approach to their working week. Many are arguing that their productivity has been better but, given there was a pandemic, there is little proof for this. As many lawyers note, there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of legal cases ready to come through as employees do not wish to come back and employers are feel frustrated. There is a natural tension emerging.

So how can this be solved?

The obvious answer is better communication and not as it was. So many felt cynical about internal communications. It needs to change. It needs to be more agile, more open and more genuine. People want to see leaders be the same – open, genuine and agile. No one has all the answers in this market. Many will fail and that it is just how it will be as all are facing virgin territory as they rebuild. This is not a time for judgment but a time for bringing people together to collaborate.

Tensions need to be eased. It needs to be accepted that the return to work will be a long journey back. Research suggest 11.8% are back in August and this does suggest a long road back. In fact, a poll of 2,000 adults found that 87% of those who worked from home during the pandemic want the opportunity to continue doing so.

If one just takes those figures of 11.8% and 87%, then the scale of challenge becomes clear. 50% by the Year end would be success?
Everyone is going to have to compromise and adapt. Leaders will need to develop new strategies in how they communicate, in how offices appear and look, in the interaction created within offices.

This will be a moment of real evolution in communications. Otherwise that suggested 50% by the year end could be even further out; what would that mean for businesses, and city centres?