Encouraging People to Come Back
Into the Office
A few years ago, there were only a handful of designers, animators and technical support workers who had options for remote work. Today, the world is a different place. The COVID-19 lockdown led to an unexpected evolution of remote and hybrid work options. With this new professional landscape, companies are now trying to work out how to get people back in the office. There are many benefits to working from home, like expanded talent sourcing and increased schedule flexibility for workers. However, there are many who prefer to have more separation from their home and work environments and enjoy the camaraderie of the office. There are as many benefits to working from home as there are in the office. Managers and executives must assess what works best for everyone on their team, considering all the emerging hybrid and work flexibility options. In this article, we look at ways to get employees back in the office.
1. Value the People in the Workplace
Throw away surveys from random people and industries that aren’t related to yours and instead concentrate on the people in your workplace and what they want. Do anonymous research to find out how people you work with might be encouraged to return to the office. New talent and employees might want opportunities to meet their new team, and those just starting their careers could be interested in being mentored. Find out what could change to improve their work life. For example, flexible start times might incentivize workers who sit in morning traffic for an hour and allow employees with kids to do school drop-off. Or, instead of having one large office that everyone must travel to, consider renting smaller workspace stations for different teams. Taking into account the unique needs of your workforce will go a long way in increasing employees in the office.
Looking at the 4 C’s
After assessing everyone’s ideal situation, devise a strategy to be mindful of that. Be positive and encouraging by reminding people of the benefits of being in a workplace — and then make those benefits a reality. A few ideas for where to start are:
- Connection: Create opportunities for those who work in the office to have structured and unstructured time to engage and share ideas.
- Collaboration: With fewer people in the office, use new spaces to create collaboration zones that are less formal for teams to meet up and work through ideas.
- Creativity: Some might find a white cubicle inspiring, but others enjoy sitting on a beanbag with their laptop. Inspire creativity by finding out what kind of creative zones will inspire people.
- Culture: Culture and mission statements are often thought about, printed and then stuck on posters in the breakroom. To encourage in-office work, bring action to those statements. Invite new training opportunities to the office and offer fun exercises and methods to improve collaboration and morale.
2. Offer Social Engagement Incentives
The one thing that has been brought to everyone’s attention, regardless of where your company stands on in-person or remote work, is that the office allows for social engagement. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85% of workers would return to the office to rebuild team bonds. Businesses with a healthy culture where people are free to bring themselves to work will enjoy the benefits of improved collaboration and innovation. While we can all play trivia over a video conference, there is nothing like spending your coffee break playing foosball in the break room. Other fun ideas to incorporate into common or lounge-type spaces are:
- Air hockey
- Board games
For larger spaces, consider a pool table or table tennis. It also helps to consider different spaces for different purposes. For those who enjoy working in relative quiet, you can make spaces that accommodate relaxed, independent work. Meanwhile, for workers and teams that need space to spread out and collaborate, you can incorporate communal spaces with whiteboards or projectors. If coworkers have shared interests, start organizing clubs or gatherings around those interests. Book clubs or a shared library shelf are great ways to encourage camaraderie at work. While expecting all coworkers to become best friends is unrealistic, it’s also important to show your team you value their interests — not just their output. You might organize some events outside of working hours, but try to include some during the work day so people feel like the company values a social culture.
3. Provide In-Person Benefits and Perks
Another way to get employees back in the office is to offer benefits and perks for working in person. For example, you can provide the following to your in-office workers:
- Free food and snacks
- Casual dress code
- Flexible schedule
- Improved office furniture
- Hybrid work options
4. Build an Inviting Space
If you want people to come back to the office, you should create a space they’re excited to come back to. One aspect people might have enjoyed working from home is the relaxation of it. But imagine working in a space that is as relaxed or comfy as home but without the chores and distractions. If you show you want to create a situation that will work for them, they will do their best work. Some great office design tips to create an inviting space include:
- Add open shelving
- Use soft furnishings like rugs and curtains
- Switch out your board tables for multi-function chairs and coffee tables
- Decorate with compelling local artwork
- Remove the fluorescents and incorporate softer lightening options
Since most workplaces will adopt some kind of hybrid work, you can mix up your office design with temporary workstations and all-day cubicles. While some workers will want a space to call their own, others may appreciate the convenience of plugging their laptops in and getting right to work. Create sections with standing tables and other areas that offer private booths. Create other areas where people can sit in groups or teams. The experience of diversity and difference will be enticing as opposed to the idea they are just coming back to their usual cubicle.
Contact WB Wood to Create Your Office Space
Whatever options and benefits you offer your employees to encourage them to come back, do it authentically. Transparency and communication have become two other sectors people have come to value within a workspace. When considering adding furniture like privacy booths and desks and adding in different height workstations, bring in WP Wood to create the furniture for you. Contact us today to talk with our experts about getting new office furniture and optimizing your interior design!