Here are two statements we can’t close our ears to any longer:
1. Change is hard. 2. Change is coming.
We’ll cut to the chase: More workers expect the option to work from home, and in a very tight labor market, most employers are acquiescing.
Recent studies show most workers don’t want to work from home only; they want to choose whether to spend their day in the office or at their own desk/couch/bed/patio/floor. The reasons vary, but the result is the same; individual productivity may be up, but corporate cultures are bearing a setback.
If you’re a leader who really and truly cannot have most of your employees work remotely, then you’re probably in medical, education, government or finance. Our research name those verticals as experiencing a wholesale return to office, largely because of industry regulations, limited offsite access and systems, and the nature of the work. For the rest of you: How to inspire talent to work from the office?
Our advice is this: Give them the choice to work from home, but make coming into the office so attractive that four-outta-five times (or three-outta-five) they’ll choose the commute over logging in to Zoom.
How does one do this? You might expect an office furniture company like us to recommend stocking your space with quality office furniture (which you should) sold to you by us (again, yes), but that’s just the first step. A truly great task chair can’t do it alone.
The answer is a healthy dose of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Here are three meaningful steps leaders can implement to make working from the office a desirable choice:
1. Sell the Community
Foster an environment where your team feels like a team. Expose the fact that there is a level of collaboration and creative thinking that happens when people share a space that online meetings just cannot replicate, no matter how good everyone’s Zoom background is.
That means sharing company goals and strategies to encourage employee buy-in; regular sit-down with team members to celebrate wins, addressing their concerns, and allowing employees to work at their own pace while reaping the benefits of community team-making.
2. Make the Office Feel More Like Home
One of the best things about working from home (IOHO) is the ability to get up from your work area and walk 20 feet to your kitchen for a snack and a break from the screen. Bonus points for doing this in no pants.
While we’d never recommend a no-pants dress code, relaxing a strict suit-and-tie-mentality can help lure young professionals into the office. So can giving them that ‘home’ environment by investing in or upgrading your office’s kitchen with new finishes.
And don’t stop there. Make your office more attractive by giving employees what they don’t get at home. Get fresh fruit delivered every day (it’s cheaper than you might think), invest in a soda fountain or a keg service, and get lunch catered in regularly (or develop an office meal plan, like a little company called Google is doing).
3. Encourage Face-to-Face Interaction
This last one is sort of a fusion of our previous two points. Humans crave face-to-face interaction with their peers, and they can’t get that when they work from home. Give it to them — encourage it, even — and they’ll want to stick around the office.
Invest in common areas where employees can linger and chat. Beyond the kitchen (see above), that could be an open space with sofas or tables, or even a room specifically for employee leisure.
As leaders integrate these changes into the workspace, their teams can switch the conversation from ‘choosing to work from home’ to ‘getting to work from the office.’ We promise.
Call us; we can help make this real, really fast.
Mary Frances Hogan President + Ringmaster burkeMICHAEL+