Calling the Sales Team Back to the Office

BY Tim Londergan
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83% of CEOs want their employees back in the office. Yet only 10% of employees want to return to a full in-​office culture. This troubling discovery comes from a work force study of remote worker psychology. So how can sales managers get their team back to the office? Obviously, there is work to be done to bring these groups in alignment.

What employees want

People enjoy having control over their work environment. A distinct advantage is the ability to integrate personal and professional obligations. Commuting takes away personal time, not to mention the frustration of delays, the cost and the risk of accident. Employees are thoughtful about their resistance. A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. 64% would trade a substantial raise to permanently work from home. It will take careful consideration to get the team back to the office.

What sales managers want

Some sales managers are experienced at handling teams remotely, however, those who lack the experience felt their own productivity had decreased, according to the workforce study by the Best Practice Institute (BPI). The report emphasizes the need for the right tools plus training and development for managers who handle virtual teams.

What customers want

In-​office employees are best for the customers and the long term health of the organization, according to Paul White, writing for appreciationatwork​.com. He says companies that invest in their employees and the workplace culture outperform those who don’t. Innovation, collaboration and retention are the primary motivators. In-​person meetings exude an energy that creates collaboration and sparks innovation. In-​person relationships with co-​workers often make it harder to leave a company. Happy customers don’t care where their sales rep is located as long as they get what they want. Having innovative, collaborative and long-​term employees may be the ticket to customer satisfaction regardless of whether you get the team back to the office.

Finding middle ground

Just to virtualize the office at home is not enough. To be productive when working from home, the top three needs for remote workers are:

  1. Immediate access to teammates
  2. Time for dealing with personal issues
  3. Clear direction from managers

Getting the team back to the office is a two-​way street. Therefore, employers need to:

  1. Allow social distancing
  2. Offer clear instruction on health and safety
  3. Instill confidence that co-​worker infections are monitored
  4. Provide options to work remotely

A survey of senior management by PwC showed that 29% believe that three days per week in the office is needed to maintain company culture. 21% opted for five days per week. Few believe the company culture would survive a purely remote set up.

What does the office offer that the home environment cannot? What it takes to get the team back to the office requires careful consideration and the answers will be different for each company. And finally, administrators need to get very good at analyzing their specific value proposition for their specific culture, advises BPI.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash