Adding a ping pong table in the break room won’t cut it anymore. Employers must look a bit deeper at what workers need if they hope to entice their employees back into the office.
From more flexible workspaces to career growth opportunities, we look at how to attract workers back into the workplace.
Employers will find the most effective change in the workplace to draw workers back into the office is to provide what was missing at home: socialization and no distractions from family members.
After only seeing your coworkers in tiny little boxes on a screen for years, being able to gather in person can be a welcome change. Not only can employees catch up on a personal level, but meetings and workflow may move more quickly without needing to troubleshoot poor connections, tech issues, and the ability to ask coworkers a simple work question or clarification in person rather than typing an extensive email.
No one wants to return to a dead office. Returning to large empty spaces with your desk far removed from others could be a bit unnerving. If workers show up without space for gathering or collaboration, they will likely wonder why they are there.
Kay Sargent, global architecture firm HOK's director of workplace design shared in a recent LinkedIn Live event, that office design matters more than ever. This means offices must reorganize their layout to ensure the dedicated communal and meeting areas are vibrant and lively places where workers can socialize and work with colleagues without the concern that they’re bothering other coworkers focused on their own work.
Varied workspaces are essential. Workers will also need quiet workstations and dedicated desks away from the collaboration spaces.
While working from home, workers’ other biggest hurdle was continuous distractions from family members. With many struggling to create a makeshift office at the end of the kitchen counter or spread out on the coffee table, having a private workspace without kids or significant others constantly fighting for your attention will be a huge incentive to make that commute.
Offices that can find the balance between communal and private workspaces will see happy employees.
Employees required to come to the office will be looking for jobs and opportunities with more enticing amenities that will help them get their work done and offer a more stress-free environment.
For example, the 2023 Workplace Amenities Report revealed many are seeking out offices that provide:
- IT/tech bars
- Easy parking
- Staffed security desks
- Convenient places to grab food and packages
- Child care and dog care
Access to outdoor spaces and bright, natural lighting in the office continue to be desired.
Again, offering what workers can’t get at home, a higher-quality office space can make all the difference. Faster internet and quality, comfortable office chairs that offer back support are simple additions that can make all the difference for workers.
It’s All About Choice
While some companies have required workers to return to the office full-time, many employers plan to continue a hybrid work model. Offering workers flexibility and choice in their work schedule and location will greatly incentivize and attract more employees to your business.
Workers are seeking positions where they can enjoy both the benefits of working from home and at the office, resulting in less burnout, more productivity, and happier workers.
Seek Input from Employees
Employers should also consider including their employees in the decision-making process of how to revamp the office space. Ask for their input on which amenities they’d like to see in the office and what would make them want to return. When employees feel heard, they're more likely to buy into the vision of returning to the office.
Plus, this way, employers can avoid spending resources on new amenities workers have no interest in. You don’t want to build bike parking spaces when all your workers drive to work and would really rather have a coffee bar.
Opportunities for the Younger Generation
As Gen Z enters the workforce, appealing to the younger generation will be essential in getting them to want to come into the office.
According to the 2023 Global Workplace Survey Comparison, Gen Z workers value flexibility, learning, and socializing. They seek out workplace connections, networking, and mentorship opportunities that can assist with growing their career.
Offices that offer educational opportunities and mentorship or leadership programs will be an attractive draw for younger workers looking to advance their careers and make a mark in their field.