Office Return Complexities

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Here is a funny video that relates to the topic of this article.

Dear Bev,

During the stay-at-home phase, we had to have a handful of team members in the office for client support reasons. We were very careful; we rotated people and we never had more than five at the maximum – usually closer to three.

We wanted to do something to acknowledge the extra effort these people had to make. We sent lunch deliveries there every Tuesday and Friday. There are a couple of local places our firm uses, and the people in the office raved about how this was the most special “treat” of their week.

Now we have returned to almost full capacity. I have a couple of immune-compromised people who have requested to stay home until we see where this Delta variant lands. But otherwise, the remaining 27 people are back in the office.

There has been noise about continuing the Tues/Fri lunch treats. Neither my partner, our COO, nor I have ever said this was in the plan. But staff members start talking about how great this perk was and now it seems to have taken on a life of its own.

We don’t want to be stuck buying lunch for 27 people twice a week. We are generous with our staff. Salaries are above the mid-range for our area, and we have generous benefits and a good profit-sharing plan. We don’t believe adding this extra expense is necessary and if you do the math over time, it adds up to significant dollars. I don’t even go out or buy my lunch most days because of the cost.

How do we appropriately let our team members know this isn’t going to happen? People seem glad to be back and mostly happy to be working together. I don’t want to throw the wet rag on them, but we have to address this soon.