Mastering the art of flexible leadership with tailor-made RTO policies

Boots’ decision to call employees back to the office for five days per week has recently sparked debates on the effectiveness of RTO mandates

Mastering the art of flexible leadership with tailor-made RTO policies

With similar policies on the rise, a recent Owl Labs study reveals that over half (51%) of UK workers are in favour of some form of RTO policy to boost team productivity. However, it’s clear that workers still want the flexibility to choose their working pattern rather than have their work schedule dictated by executives.

Flexibility is key 

When it comes to introducing RTO policies, a blanket approach isn’t fit for purpose. According to recent  data, the overwhelming majority (87%) of UK workers agree that an unofficial and more flexible RTO policy boosts team morale. Company leaders must, therefore, offer a certain amount of flexibility to reap the rewards of being in the office while maintaining an engaged workforce. 

Empowering employees to work flexibly according to their task lists, also known as task-based working, often proves more fruitful than implementing a blanket RTO policy. 

For example, when employees are faced with tasks that require greater concentration, they are more likely to be more productive when working from home. In contrast, more creative and communicative tasks such as brainstorming and team planning often benefit from face-to-face interactions in the office. Adopting a task-based approach to working also provides better support to those with dependents, such as parents and carers, who may prefer working from the office as it removes distractions at home. It is therefore critical that executives empower employees to manage their own work schedule based on their individual working tasks.

Where employees draw the line 

As a result of EY and Amazon’s employee monitoring measures that track attendance and screen time, it’s clear that workers draw the line at this level of surveillance. Moreover, our data reveals over half of UK employees (55%) believe employee monitoring tools negatively impact productivity. 

The rise of employee monitoring opens up a wider debate about trust between company leadership and general employees. As work habits continue to evolve, executives need to take measures to empower their teams—rather than simply track their attendance. 

Stealth management: Bespoke RTO policies 

While executives might be adopting a more stringent approach to RTO, new data shows that managers are taking a nuanced approach to company policies in favour of their teams. Nearly three quarters (70%) of managers allow team members to work from home despite an official return to office policy. Given that 42% of workers would look for another job with more flexibility if their option to work in a hybrid or remote environment was removed, many managers know that it’s simply not worth the risk of valuable employees quitting to work somewhere with a more flexible policy.

As a result, some companies are proving to be more flexible when it comes to RTO mandates. As it stands, either unsurprisingly or not, 1 in 3 (35%) workers reveal that their company has backtracked on a RTO mandate, with a further 15% stating this was due to employee demand. 

As the UK flexible working bill comes into effect this April, hybrid working policies have never been more topical. The data has shown that organisations that adopt a task-based approach to RTO mandates will promote happier and more productive teams. RTO mandates, when introduced correctly, can boost company productivity and increase the number of face-to-face interactions employees have – without hindering staff from choosing their working location based on their daily task list. 

Frank Weishaupt
Frank Weishaupt

Share via
Copy link