At this point in the pandemic, businesses are all over the board in terms of whether or not their employees are required to be in the office. Some are using an in-between approach and implementing a hybrid schedule to minimize the amount of people in the office and, hopefully, the risk of any viral transmission. Within these businesses, some organizations are offering a great degree of flexibility, making in-person work completely optional to their teams. While this is an extremely attractive aspect for employees, the pandemic has shifted a lot of people’s priorities and increased the demand for work-life balance. FlexJobs found that 65% of their survey group wanted to stay remote full-time, while only 33% would specifically prefer a hybrid schedule. That being said, how can you encourage employees to physically come into the office when they are more than capable of doing the job equally as well at home? Let’s take a look at some ideas.
Openly Acknowledge the Pros and Cons of In Person vs. Remote Work
If employees feel negatively pressured to step into the office, they’re far less likely to want to do it. Therefore, it’s imperative that you communicate to your team that you respect their time and fully acknowledge the positives of remote work. Then, bring up coming into the office as an option and go about it in a way that you are catering to the needs of your employees, not necessarily just upper management.
Reconfigure the Office to be as COVID-Friendly as Possible
A huge reason why people may not want to return to the office, especially now with the arrival of the Omicron variant, is the reason we all went home in the first place - the pandemic! Make a detailed plan on how you’re going to switch up your office layout and what additional safety measures you will be implementing in order to make in-person work as safe as possible. For more help with this task, check out our article on How Offices are Rearchitecting Their Spaces for Post-COVID (granted, post-COVID is still just a hope that we’re working towards)! Unless you plan on expanding, this reconfiguration entails working with the space you have so implementing flexible work spaces that can be used for multiple purposes will be key.
Create a Social Hub/Break Area
Going hand-in-hand with work-life balance, lots of people are over the rigid and monotonous culture of office life. With remote work, we’ve gotten used to working much more casually and being able to take a break when we want, as long as our daily objectives are met. Communicate to your team that you are going above and beyond to translate that sentiment into the office. Let them know that not only are breaks and having a good time with colleagues accepted, but that they’re encouraged! The pandemic has exposed that productivity is not hurt by a lack of rigid rules from upper management - in a lot of cases, it actually increased. If your team feels that you understand this, they may be more inclined to come into the office for the social aspect of it.
Invest in the Space Itself
While we’re on the topic of changes you can make to the office, make sure that the office is somewhere people would actually want to go to! Remember, you are now competing with peoples’ own homes. They can stay on their couch, comfortable as ever, surrounded by loved ones and personal things which make them happy. You have to give them something that encourages them to leave that and come to the office every now and then! Consider modernizing the finishes, installing cool amenities (we’ve got a full gym and a game room), and making sure the place is kept clean and organized. If you want your team to come in, give them something worth coming into.
Accommodate Virtual Collaboration
The world is not the same as it was two years ago, and neither should your office. Adaptation is crucial, and you can accomplish this by implementing aspects of remote work into the in-person experience. Provide spaces for people to take meetings online and privately. Encourage teams to implement hybrid structures for meetings and let them know that if they can’t make it in-person, that is totally alright! What employees want to see is flexibility, and to attract them back into the office, even if it's optional, that flexibility has to be present even when they physically show up.
Try Team-Based Incentives
Implementing drivers such as weekly team dinners or events is a great way to get your employees into the office! Set aside some funds to treat your in-person employees to a nice meal and consider making it a regular thing. Not only does this encourage in-person attendance, but it strengthens the team’s bond as well, as they’ll get a chance to interact outside of work settings like the office or a Zoom call.
The workforce is now in the court of the employees, not the employers. Understanding that, employee needs and demands, and the new reality of the modern workplace will surely set your organization up for long-term success. A healthy work-life balance should be something that is strived for across the board and across industries. However, the office is not obsolete, and there is a way to get your team through those doors. The key is making them want to be there, not forcing them to be. Hopefully these tips increase your office’s attendance!
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