Tempting your team back to the office
Temptation may seem a strange word to use about the office. But that is where we find ourselves in this ‘living with COVID’ world. The pandemic changed how people work and, with unemployment at record lows, employers are finding that the carrot beats the stick. Workplace fit-out company Evoke Projects has some tips for tempting your team back to the office.
Advantages of working in the office
Team presence helps to develop a stronger workplace culture through better team connection. Collaboration is easier and more spontaneous. Employees can quickly access other team members to ‘get things done’, which heightens the sense of day-to-day achievement. Businesses have better oversight and control of time and task, but the jury is out on productivity benefits: some people have an effective home office fit-out while others have too many distractions. Socially and economically, small businesses and event organisers are supported when the city is buzzing with life from Monday to Friday.
What temptations do workers need?
Let’s consider what workers miss when they work at the office. They primarily miss the convenience and the flexibility they have at home. They begrudge the time spent commuting and the expense of public transport or fuel and parking. Families miss the shared childcare opportunity. Some people worry about the risks of catching COVID during their commute or while working in a cramped office fit-out.
Research has consistently showed that most people do not want to work remotely full-time, as humans are naturally social animals who enjoy collaboration and team camaraderie. Therefore, the answer to tempting people back to the office is to remind them of the advantages of office connection while adding extra perks.
Open discussion and transparency
Start by seeking out your team’s feedback. Ask for ideas about what to introduce to the office to make it more attractive. Suggestions might include exercise or yoga classes, after work drink sessions, or a monthly dinner club. Be prepared for some of those ideas to require ongoing financial support, such as on-site childcare, subsidised travel or free coffee.
People who have an amazing home office fit-out might not appreciate how difficult remote work can be for those who share a small apartment. Explain that the business is trying to find a workplace solution that suits everybody.
Remind people about the benefits of working in the office, but also be honest if you have concerns about productivity or distractions during remote working time.
Tempting office fit-out
The office design team at Evoke Projects have been helping clients with their office fit-outs for many, many years. Even before the pandemic, modern office designs were a temptation in themselves. Who wouldn’t choose to work in an aesthetically pleasing workspace?
To tempt people back to the office, ensure you have the features of an office fit-out that can be difficult to achieve at home… ergonomic office furniture, latest technology, plentiful storage, task lighting, quiet spaces, flexible work zones for different tasks, to name a few. Now add some homely elements that workers would usually miss when they attend the office, such as lounge furniture, plants, an area to rest and recharge, perhaps even a sleep or reading nook. You are offering them the best of both worlds!
Flexibility for better health and well-being
The flexibility and convenience that people enjoy when working from home does not have to be lost at the office. Let people know that you respect their time and independence. Introduce more flexible hours into the workday, with start and finish times of choice and flexible lunch and break times. Some people might prefer a two-hour lunch break so they can take an exercise class, shower and eat. Others might prefer frequent short breaks throughout the day.
Hybrid working patterns also give flexibility to work from home on some days and in the office at other times.
COVID-safe office fit-out
It is important to recognise that each employee will have a different attitude to COVID. Coloured wrist bands (e.g., red, amber, green) can quickly convey somebody’s personal feelings about social distance comfort. Some team members will want to live like the ‘old days’ and happily sit close. Others prefer a strict 1.5 metre social distance. Ensuring that co-workers respect each other during this time is vital for the cohesion and strong company culture that you want to engender.
It is worth revisiting some of the traditional COVID-safe workplace fit-out recommendations:
- plexiglass barriers
- hand sanitiser
- fresh air and HEPA air filters
- outdoor workspaces
- touchless soap/taps/hand dryers/light switches
- automatic flushing toilets
- hands-free door handles
- regular and well-communicated cleaning schedule
Of all the recommendations above, the workplace fit-out team at Evoke Projects choose ‘Open discussion and transparency’ above all else. If employees feel listened to and appreciated, they will be tempted back to the office because it is the place where their health and well-being is most supported.
To discuss workplace design and fit-out ideas to tempt your team back to the office, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.