In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, employers face the challenge of creating environments that not only attract but also retain talented employees. Understanding the changing needs and preferences of today’s workforce is the key to achieving this goal. In this blog post, we explore the concept of the future workplace and delve into the top improvements that would make employees more inclined to return to the office.
The challenge of bringing employees back to the office
Getting employees back to the office can be a tricky task, as widespread resistance has led to poor office attendance. Some organizations are resorting to desperate measures to entice or even force employees back, such as donating money to charity for each day an employee goes into the office, offering free food, live concerts, increasing commuter benefits, or relaxing dress codes. However, these tactics have been hit-or-miss, and for good reason – employees don’t want to commute just to accomplish tasks they could do more comfortably at home.
A few companies are taking it a step further by putting consequences in place for workers who don’t comply. Some big companies have announced that they will begin using in-person attendance as part of employees’ performance reviews and crafting pay packages.
The Desire for hybrid work
Employees’ reluctance to return to the office is evident, with nearly one out of three willing to take a pay cut to work remotely full-time, and 68% preferring to find a new job that allows remote work instead of going back to the traditional office environment. This highlights the urgent need for companies to adopt a more employee-centered approach to promote office work.
Employees find significant advantages in working from home. They can save time and money by eliminating the need to commute, experience reduced social stress, enjoy a better environment for focused work at home, and find it easier to take care of their kids and handle unforeseen events. These reasons are among the factors that make employees prefer remote work over working in the office.
However, despite the presence of perks, it is important to acknowledge that there are also downsides. Employees who have families or lack access to a home office or a peaceful environment at home may still prefer the option to work quietly and privately in the office.
But particularly the young Generation Z, who typically live alone and have therefore experienced being extra isolated by the pandemic, may have an increased need for collaboration and teamwork in the office to foster their professional development. Collaboration enables continuous learning and personal growth, and Gen Z prioritizes this particularly highly. Young individuals are fully aware that the job market is constantly changing, and to thrive, they need to continuously develop new skills and remain relevant. Therefore, it can be valuable to pair the young ones with experienced senior employees and offer mentorship programs, for instance. This is because studies show that organizations that invest in employee development are far more likely to attract and retain Gen Z talent.
Creating An attractive workplace
To foster a positive attitude towards the office as a workplace, employers must offer incentives that resonate with their employees. These incentives go beyond superficial perks and delve into the core of what makes an office environment appealing. Providing significant financial value, promoting work-life balance, and offering on-site benefits that genuinely enhance the overall work experience is crucial to establishing an attractive work environment.
At PhoneAlone, our vision is to support companies in creating happy, healthy, and successful workplaces. To understand employee preferences, we have looked at which office perks attract employees to the office. According to a survey conducted by COOR, 26% of employees mentioned a reduction in noise levels as the most enticing change to lure them back to the office. Furthermore, nearly half (49 %) of the surveyed employees expressed that their second most desired change was better access to quiet areas for individually focused work in the office.
As a company, you should find the model that best suits your organization and create an appealing space with excellent facilities where your employees can engage in both focused individual work and collaboration, fostering a healthy balance that boosts productivity and creativity.
Top Improvements to Increase Employee Inclination to Come into the Office
The top five improvements at the office that would increase employee’s likelihood of coming into the office:
- Reduced noise levels in the office
Employers should explore innovative solutions like sound-absorbing materials, strategic office layouts, or noise-canceling technologies to create a tranquil work environment.
- Better access to quiet space for focused work
Allocating dedicated spaces or providing adaptable workstations can empower employees to engage in uninterrupted, concentrated work.
- Improved ergonomics at workstations
Investing in ergonomic furniture and equipment helps ensure the physical well-being of employees, reducing discomfort and enhancing productivity.
- Increased presence from other co-workers/colleagues
Encouraging collaboration and social interaction through well-designed communal areas or team-building activities can foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
- General improvement to interiors/furnishings
Aesthetically pleasing and functional office spaces can uplift employee morale and contribute to a positive work atmosphere. Thoughtful interior design choices, including ergonomic seating, ample natural light, and inspiring artwork, can make a significant impact.
A Workplace Combining the Best of Both Worlds
The future workplace requires a strategic approach that aligns with the changing needs and preferences of employees. By prioritizing improvements that genuinely address employees’ desires such as reduced noise levels, better access to quiet spaces, improved ergonomics, increased social interaction, and enhanced office interiors, employers can create a work environment that not only attracts but also supports and empowers the employees. Understanding employees’ preferences and implementing meaningful changes will contribute to a pleasant, healthy, and prosperous work environment that employees want to be a part of.
Today, the office is commonly perceived as the ideal setting for group-based activities, collaboration, and socializing with colleagues. This showcases how the post-pandemic workplace has evolved into a social hub. Nevertheless, data shows that employees, in reality, prefer to have access to quiet spaces for focused work at the office.
It is possible to combine the social aspect of the office community with the need for focused work, thereby increasing employee efficiency by leveraging the best of both worlds. There are available solutions that can cater to both of these needs. By implementing acoustic and sound-insulating solutions, it’s possible to create areas within the office dedicated to productivity and tranquility.
Flex rooms and Phone booths
Creating good working environments is crucial for retaining employees, especially in open-plan offices and shared workspaces. An effective solution is to establish phone booths and small, flexible meeting rooms where employees can take phone calls or hold online meetings without disturbing others or being disturbed themselves. Additionally, meeting booths suitable for small internal meetings of 2-4 people can help to reduce noise challenges in the office.
An interesting example is the Technical and Environmental Administration in Aarhus Municipality, which recommends establishing approximately 1 booth per 12-15 employees as a starting point to promote optimal well-being in open-plan offices. They work towards creating well-adapted work environments that consider employees’ needs and contribute to a productive and pleasant work experience.
It is an advantageous strategy for the company to provide areas for undisturbed focused work, as this contributes to increased productivity. In addition to enhancing work efforts, this approach also yields direct financial benefits for the company. The implementation of soundproofed phone booths and meeting rooms can actually lead to savings in the company’s square meter cost per employee. By having more of these booths available, the company can effectively reduce the overall space requirement and avoid being burdened by high rent costs.
Explore the Future Workplace with PhoneAlone
If you are curious about reducing the noise levels in your office and providing booths for quiet focused work, you can explore our products here and start the journey towards creating a work environment where employees actually want to be.
COOR: Join the Workplace Revolution, 2023
Workplace Intelligence: 5 Ways to Get Employees Back to the Office, 2023
Teknik og Miljø Aarhus Kommune: Forslag til Samarbejdsmodel for Administrationsbygninger, 2022