To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the office's death are greatly exaggerated. Although there's been a ton of discussion this past year extolling the virtues of working from home - shorter commutes, less chit-chat, workday flexibility - a whopping 94% of people are itching to get back to the office in some form.
Here's why workers want to get back to the office, and how we can help them get the most of it.
1. Real Connection Happens IRL
Zoom calls, Slack convos, and emails are handy communication methods, but they'll never completely replace in-person meetings and discussions. There's a big difference between toggling between different users on a screen and actually sharing space in a boardroom. When you're IRL, it's much easier to take advantage of the creative, professional, and team-building moments that serendipitously happen as you present, move between desks or chat over a coffee in the break room. In contrast, when you're working remotely, this stuff has to be engineered. No wonder remote employees are less likely to feel like they're truly part of a company - and new ones in particular struggle to feel seen.
Our tips for making the most of these moments once you're back in the office:
- Encourage employees to get up and move around
- Design spaces to foster unstructured conversations and discussions between people in different roles or from different divisions - interaction is key!
- Offer activities, events, and opportunities that foster your company culture and team-building
- Create a "welcome back" kit that helps people feel valued and seen
2. Office Working Creates Much-Needed Boundaries
One of the biggest laments work-from-home employees share is the inability to draw a boundary between work life and home life when you live and work in the same space. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, companies might have been worried about employee accountability, but in fact, employees have been working harder and longer than ever. While it's not always possible to leave work at work, it's definitely easier to do when your desk and kitchen table aren't one and the same. Without that line in the sand, the potential for burnout is real - and with burnout comes low morale, reduced performance, and employee attrition. Having the option to return to the office even one day a week can boost employee morale by as much as 40%!
When welcoming your employees back to the office, help them draw work-life boundaries by:
- Encouraging them to log off out-of-hours and on weekends
- Being flexible about many days they work from home or the office
- Providing devices and materials that are work-only
- Designing your workplace so that employees have a space of "their" own
3 Creativity Requires Stimulation and Input
When life feels monotonous, it's hard to be creative. Most of us have spent the past year cooped up inside, with little opportunity to enjoy new experiences, input, or interactions. There's only so much inspiration you can get from sitting in your makeshift home office every day! Getting back to the office is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in external stimuli that we can then channel into our zest for our work. From getting coffee to taking the train to go for a lunchtime stroll around the neighborhood, office working gives us plenty of opportunities to let our minds and imaginations roam. Add the interactions with colleagues, clients, and mentors that are all the more likely, and those creative cogs will become well-oiled machines.
Here's how to make sure your employees are at their creative best when they come back to the office:
- Mix up the 9-5 with events, talks, outings, and opportunities
- Decorate your space with stimulating art, greenery, and engaging furniture
- Encourage people to get out and about and to mingle in new combinations
- Invite your employees to come forward with suggestions, ideas, and leads
Need Some Tips On Getting Back to the Office?
Getting back to the office after a year away is bound to be a culture shock. But by identifying what your employees have been missing and designing your workplace to fill those gaps, you can ensure that it's the right kind of culture shock. At StellaPop we know exactly what it takes to foster a culture of creativity, belonging, and connection, and we're here to help. To ensure your organization is working at its best - from top to bottom - get in touch, and we'll make it happen!