After three years of widespread remote work, experimentation with hybrid work policies, rollbacks, and disagreement between industry leaders, employers are finally starting to implement firm return-to-office rules. This period seems to have generated more questions than it was able to answer, forcing workers and managers to consider the value of the in-office status quo, analyze the benefits, and rethink the ways they could do better work while taking advantage of a more flexible schedule. Despite all this uncertainty, it seems clear that the majority of government and private sector employees will soon be returning to office, at least part-time. A recent study found that 72% of companies around the world have enacted return-to-work policies.
Whether you have joined in asking your team to return to the office or you are considering a hybrid or fully remote policy, it’s important to glean what lessons you can from past and present remote work policies and think about how they can help your nonprofit succeed.
The current landscape
There seems to be a major disconnect between the current push for a return to the office and the stated preferences of office workers. Although the majority of employers in the public and private sectors are mandating a return, a majority of workers have expressed that they’re willing to quit their jobs over these mandates. A McKinsey study found that 71% of employees would be willing to start looking for other opportunities if their current employer doesn’t offer some form of hybrid work. This is echoed by government employees, 51% of whom said they would quit if their remote work opportunities were reduced.
It’s important to note that these are broadly stated statistics. In other words, what employees consider to be a reasonable remote or hybrid policy will change from person to person, depending on their situation and preferences. The key lesson seems to be that the last three years have been a major shift in the way employees look at work, and there may not be a “return” to the pre-COVID-19 status quo.
Another factor to consider is the difficulties many nonprofits are having hiring and retaining new employees. A report from the National Council of Nonprofits found that 52% of nonprofits had more job vacancies now than before the pandemic. This represents another shift in the status quo, and one that nonprofits like yours will need to work to change in order to continue their mission.
Although this list is by no means exhaustive, here are some of the key things that you can learn from the last few years and reckon with the “new normal” in nonprofit work:
Flexibility is expected
As the statistics above show, employees have become acclimated to remote and hybrid work and the lifestyle changes it affords them. For many, remote work wasn’t just a preference but an essential component of their post-pandemic life as many people moved away from the office or took on new responsibilities. The 29% of employers who have embraced remote work have been able to take advantage of this, hiring at double the rate of full-time in-office companies.
As you come up with a hybrid or remote work plan for your nonprofit organization, having a flexible mindset that enables you to meet current and future employees on their terms and offer them a schedule that works for both parties will be advantageous for you. This could mean fully remote work for some, hybrid work for others, or fully remote options for all. Having discussions with current staff about their needs and expectations is a great way to start assessing what you should do.
Rethinking the office
One of the key conversations that emerged from the move to remote work centers around the value of the office. People began to ask what the benefits of traditional office work were and how they could be quantified. Although there hasn’t been any consensus on this topic, what is clear is that this is a great opportunity to rethink the way the office is used.
One of the undeniable benefits of in-person office work is the ease of discussion, brainstorming, and planning that can happen when your team is in the same room. As you work out your remote work policy, it would also be a good idea to think through the ways this could change the layout and usage of your office. If your staff is half remote or hybrid, you can configure office space with more meeting and breakout rooms instead of workstations or desks. This approach helps your staff to perceive the office as an invaluable resource for meeting and discussing work that is distinct from working at home.
Make sure your team has what they need at home and in the office
An easy mistake to make is assuming that just because people have been forced to adapt to remote work, they have everything figured out in their home or remote office. Many remote work policies were created in response to the onset of COVID-19, which gave very little time for people to determine which factors can help them be better remote workers, including new computers or tablets, training in remote work security, and other considerations.
If you choose to try a hybrid or remote work policy, it’s important to develop open communication about the needs and issues that workers have, irrespective of whether they come to the office. For mission-driven work like the kind you do at your nonprofit organization, maintaining communication is critical to keep remote and in-person employees engaged. This should be central to any hybrid or remote plans you make.
501(c) Services can help you tackle these issues
Our team has been dealing with issues like these for decades — from nonprofit resource allocation to hiring, which enables us to provide you with a unique and informed perspective as you adapt to these changes. We help mission-driven organizations free up as many resources as possible to continue their mission and fully benefit from the employment rules and changes they make. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, get in touch.
501(c) Services has more than 40 years of experience helping nonprofits with unemployment outsourcing, reimbursing, and HR services. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy, and we are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.
Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.
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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.