After a year of remote work, returning to the office is on the horizon. Drawing workers back to the office may seem daunting- after all, many have become accustomed to working from the comfort of their homes. However, a survey conducted by Smartway2, revealed that “40% of workers miss the social interaction in the office, while 37% miss spontaneous collaboration and idea sharing.” Most business decision-makers surveyed prefer to split their time between the home and the office. Workers are looking for a hybrid work environment with only 6% of employees interested in working from home full time after COVID-19.
In response to this, many organizations are shifting to more agile, flexible and autonomous work environments. In addition to health and safety practices, they are implementing hybrid home-office work options and more employee-friendly work practices in order to boost morale and increase employee happiness. After all, happy employees are more creative and productive.
So, what can you do to make your employees feel safe and encourage them to return to the office?
5 Strategies To Attract Employees Back To The Office
Refreshing the workspace, improving health measures, accommodating multiple work styles, and fostering social connection may be the perfect recipe to encourage employees to return to the office. To create a workspace that draws workers back to the office, companies should focus on five things:
Healthy Office Space: Both visible and behind the scenes efforts to ensure a healthy office are important so that employees feel comfortable returning to the office. An emphasis on indoor air quality, touch free systems, and visible cleaning are critical to increasing employee comfort in the office. For more information, reference PlanForce Founder Weld Ransom’s article about Helping Tenants Feel Safe and Work Healthy.
Create a Social Hub: Working from home has created feelings of isolation in many employees, negatively impacting engagement and wellbeing. Many look forward to returning to the community of the office, though new precautionary measures may reduce the connectivity employees crave. The good news is that fostering connection is still possible while ensuring workplace safety.
Creating a social hub encourages social connections that will cultivate a strong company culture and re-energize your office space. A café or break area is a great space to start. These spaces often are underutilized at various times of day because they are primarily used for dining. By looking at these spaces in new ways, they can be redesigned as social hubs that will inspire employees and provide high-performing settings to reconnect with colleagues and collaborate effectively. Flexible settings with varying privacy levels and tools such as accessible power will energize the work environment and encourage employees to connect with each other.
Accommodate Virtual Collaboration: For many, distance working will likely continue in some capacity as part of the work landscape. Hybrid work models, fully remote clients, and coworkers that live hours from the office will likely become more commonplace. Providing spaces that support collaboration across the distance is an important component of a desirable office space.
Open office design can generate background noise in virtual meetings. Providing small conference rooms or phone booths to mitigate sound in online meetings can improve virtual meeting experiences and encourage employees to remain in the office.
Resimercial Design: Resimercial design uses a variety of textures and finishes to make spaces feel less like sterile corporate environments. Consider incorporating higher-end materials, such as leather-look upholstery, wood tones, or area rugs. This mix of finishes, colors, and surfaces can help an office be more welcoming and authentic. You want to create a space where your employees feel comfortable spending their time.
Include multiple lighting types and natural light if possible. Quality lighting energizes employees and reflects the natural circadian rhythm. Incorporating lamps and flexible lighting allows employees to adjust lighting to fit their needs and improve their comfort level. If you can’t easily access natural light, design your office the get many of the benefits. Light colored furniture and walls, glass where possible, and well-placed greenery can stimulate the effects of natural light. Consider properly placed clerestory windows or skylights and avoid spaces that are completely cut off from the outdoors.
Flexible Work Spaces: Traditional office design creates rooms that are typically only good for one use. Flexible workspaces not only make more efficient use of space, but they also give employees opportunities to customize their workspace as they engage in many different types of work activities. Offices need to double as breakout rooms, the large reception area now supports employees working away from their desk. Various types of seating and heights of work surfaces can reflect the variety of working postures employees have been experiencing working from home, easing the transition back to the office.
Be sure to provide power at the variety of workspaces in the office. Many furniture vendors have unique products including powered seating or other types of portable power. Keeping employees plugged in and powered up while in the office will allow them to stay focused on what is important.
A Vibrant Workspace
Creating an office environment that feels comfortable, accommodates different working styles, and supports community may be the perfect way to encourage workers back to the office. Restoring office vibrance and coworker connections is imperative to meet employee needs in a post-COVID office setting.
Integrating resimercial design elements, flexible workspaces, accommodating virtual collaboration, and generating social connections all aim to restore the energy of the workplace and naturally promote social interactions. The goal is not, of course, to keep people from being productive. Instead, fostering a vibrant, connected community helps cultivate a strong company culture, increase engagement, and draw employees back to the office.
The bottom line is that a comfortable, supportive work environment will encourage employees to return to the office. And the good news is that this environment is easy to achieve in your workplace. Together, these elements restore office energy and coworker connections, encouraging employees to return to work.
Chat with our experts for help with planning your return to office today!
Lindsay has a passion for all things design. A graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she studied interior design, product design, and graphic design in college. She now brings that passion to PlanForce, helping clients design unique spaces and custom furniture that shines.