Many organizations took a phased approach to rolling out a new hybrid work model. Likely, their offices reopened on a rolling basis and additional policies were put in place as restrictions eased. Your organization may have also experienced many different phases or iterations of the hybrid work model up to this point.
Now’s the perfect time to reflect on hybrid work. What is the current state? For example, is the office open, but folks are working primarily remotely? Or, are staff required to attend the office a certain number of days each week?
In some high-profile cases, like JP Morgan and Apple, a return to office mandate caused resistance from employees. Encouraging workers to attend the office is important, however, it needs to be done delicately to preserve employee morale and experience.
Understanding the Current State
Before encouraging workers to attend the office, understand if there is an issue with employee engagement at the office. Using workplace management software can help you gather analytics to determine if your space is being used as intended. Metrics such as occupancy, bookings, and no-show data can help determine if there is low attendance at the office.
Get a complete picture of the data to understand if there is a discrepancy between your policy and reality. What does the employee feedback tell you? Do employees want more support in attending the office? Or, is it about launching a new strategic plan to get the office higher use?
Strategies to Encourage Working at the Office
If the data reveals low office attendance, follow these suggestions to encourage in-person work.
1. Make The Office an Attractive Place to Work
Are employees not attending the office because it’s difficult to focus in the space? Are they experiencing issues collaborating with their coworkers in-person? Make it possible for teams to attend the office and improve the company culture.
Does your workplace management solution allow colleagues to book space near one another? This could be a great way to encourage entire teams to attend the office. As well, communicate to your colleagues or team leaders to encourage teammates to work together from the office.
Get employees excited about coming to the office by hosting team building activities or other collaboration opportunities. Events like a happy hour, special speaker, or presentation allow team members to see value in visiting the space.
Finally, enlist some perks from attending the office for employees. Perhaps it’s a free lunch, implementing a dog-friendly office, a lunch-and-learn, or public transportation reimbursements for their commute. Make sure that there is a clear benefit to employees when they attend the office, and reward them for doing so.
2. Embrace Flexibility
Another reason that employees may not be attending the office is that they require more flexibility. Working in-person can be more rigid in comparison to working remotely.
Ensure that working in-person maintains a level of flexibility. For example, employees should have the ability to check in or out of the office as needed. This gives them the freedom to drop in to the office as they please.
Maintain a level of choice and flexibility for employees to determine their own schedule. Research suggests that the benefits of attending the office can be realized in as little as one office visit per week. Forcing employees to attend the office 2 or 3 times per week may not increase their connection to the company. Instead, it can take away from the flexibility and work life balance they value while working from home.
3. Incorporate Employee Feedback
Ensure that the employee voice is reflected in encouraging staff to attend the office. Implement the feedback that you’ve gathered in a timely manner and continue to evaluate the effectiveness. Perhaps there are common concerns or hesitations about hybrid work that can be resolved. A town-hall forum or policy update could help address this.
Run employee pulse surveys before and after making policy updates! Verify if the results reveal that staff are attending the office more frequently. If your efforts are not yielding the desired outcome, perhaps further investigation can identify the cause for lack of office attendance.
Hybrid Work Strategies
Ensure that your staff clearly understand the benefits of working in the office. Use a workplace management solution to get employees excited about coming to the office. As well, as an administrator, you can gather data on office usage. Use this as an opportunity to right-size the office space for how employees are using it.
Guarantee that you are addressing any employee hesitations about returning to the office with empathy and understanding. Make it worthwhile for employees to attend the office to participate in the hybrid work model.
Lindsay is a Marketing Coordinator at Arcadis IBI Group who is passionate about the future of work. Lindsay brings her experience in marketing and communications, creativity, and innovation to help the Nspace team power the hybrid workplace.