There are undeniable benefits to giving employees the flexibility to work remotely, but employers know that there is value to be had working in the office too. Building corporate culture, cultivating social capital among coworkers, and access to physical resources are all tied to working in an office environment. However, employers are finding it difficult to entice their employees to give up the flexibility that comes with remote work. Let’s take a closer look at five things employers can do to better their in-office working environment, without dipping into their budgets.
Being able to dress more comfortably when working from home is an underappreciated benefit of remote working. Many workers realize how important this perk is to them when it comes time to return to an office environment with a strict dress code.
It’s worth pointing out that having to invest in office-environment clothing can be a hidden cost to dress codes, particularly when many employees have been remote for years and are now being called back into the office. It’s not uncommon to find remote employees who simply don’t own the type of clothing that corporate culture expects.
This presents an easy, budget-free opportunity for employers to entice their employees back into the office – get rid of the dress code! According to the 2023 State of Hybrid Work U.S. report, 1 in 4 (24%) workers would be willing to come back to the office if they could wear whatever they wanted. If you have the budget, consider giving your employees comfortable merch with your company logo on it to wear at work.
The privacy that comes from being able to work from home means a lot to employees. A home office can be a particularly stark contrast to offices with cubicles in an open floor plan. Being forced to be “on display” for eight-plus hours a day can be taxing, particularly for introverts.
Ditching the open floor plan and providing employees with private areas to work in the office is an easy (and cheap) way to get your employees more comfortable coming back into the office for work. In fact, according to the State of Hybrid Work, greater privacy at the office would convince 34% of employees to come back to in-person work.
When people are in the office it’s important to make sure they aren’t wasting their time. One of the biggest culprits of time waste for both in-office and remote employees is unnecessary meetings. There’s a reason the “meetings that could be an email” trope has remained so popular in meme culture. If employees are willing to come into the office, make sure they know that the time they spend there matters. That means not having employees come into the office just to sit on Zoom calls with their remote colleagues. If workers are in the office, they should be spending time taking advantage of being physically present.
68% of managers surveyed in the 2023 State of Hybrid Work U.S. report said that they feel their hybrid and remote employees are missing out on impromptu/informal feedback and development opportunities that could impact career growth – 48% of employees surveyed feel the same way.
Make it clear that by coming into the office managers will be actively taking the time to give their employees impromptu/informal feedback that is designed to help their employees progress down their desired career path. Prioritize professional development opportunities in the office, and you’ll likely find that employees will choose to spend more time there.
Some people have already begun testing the four-day work week and actually found that it increases productivity. In fact, 25% of employees surveyed in the 2023 State of Hybrid Work U.S. report said that they would be willing to take a 15% pay cut to switch to a four-day work week with eight-hour days. 19% said that the four-day work week is on their list of top three benefits.
Knowing that employees can be just as productive during this time frame, switching to a four-day work week is a great way to entice workers back into the office without having to spend any extra money.
The advantages of remote work are undeniable. However, there are still many advantages of a physical workspace—a hub for corporate ethos, social bonds, and tangible resources to name a few. The true challenge is enticing employees back without compromising the newfound allure of remote flexibility. This is where strategic, budget-friendly adjustments come into play: relaxed dress codes, private workstations, streamlined meetings, timely feedback, and the prospect of a four-day work week are all strong options. These adaptations, finely tuned to employee preferences, maintain the delicate equilibrium between the appeal of autonomy and the perks of a communal workspace.