It seems that enticing employees back into the office in the post-pandemic area may be slightly more complicated than we had at first anticipated. While C-suite is keen to regroup, employees have enjoyed the benefits of work-from-home for over two years. In order to make the transition comfortable for everybody, there are some key things that the apres-Covid office should feature.
While many business leaders share a common enthusiasm for reopening their office doors and welcoming back their teams full-time, it seems that just 17% of respondents to The Future Forum’s survey are as keen as their companies to dismiss telework, even as the pandemic subsides and health risks in the office environment are returning to pre-pandemic standards.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is one of many CEOs across corporate America eager to see employees back in the office, after more than two years of remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being together again,” he said earlier this month in a memo to employees.
Reluctance To Return To The Office
With only one in five employees ready to make their return to the office, the future of work as a whole is being pulled into question, some doubting whether our professional panorama will ever be the same again. Remote work granted us flexible work, creature comforts, and childcare provisions that the office of 2019 and before can never compete with.
If business leaders are to entice workers back into the office, employees’ needs should be carefully considered and practical steps are taken to ensure these are met. We should be questioning why exactly our employees are happier to continue remote work or hybrid work, and deliberate upon whether we can replicate that feeling of home, in the office.
Recreating Remote Work In The Office
By recreating the benefits of remote work in the office, we have a compromise that offers incentives for remote workers returning to the office. Budgeting for a retrofit or refurbishment before reopening the doors can go a long way to conserving the productivity and morale that a successful team needs to thrive.
Home From Home
We sat in pajamas, grazed on snacks, and took breaks when we wanted. We dealt with kids’ tantrums, watched our favorite shows, and yet — we still managed to get the job done and keep business operations ticking over. If the company is reopening, let’s assume that it survived the pandemic and that is, at least in part, down to the teams.
Even though our workdays were less rigid, productivity remained high. And now, naturally, we are less than thrilled about giving those home perks up and returning to highly-structured work environments. Unless, of course, some of these initiatives are rolled out:
- The Comfort Of Home
If we look at the office plan as an extension of the home, then the first thing we are going to reevaluate is comfort. Instead of being in the same seated position in the same chair all day, the post-pandemic office should feature a variety of areas and grant employees the freedom to flit between these areas. Lounge areas, standing desks, outdoor terrace meetings, conference rooms, and cozy on-site cafés should form part of your newly refurbished office.
- What’s Cookin’?
Given that the kitchen is the heart of the home, in post-pandemics workspaces, the kitchen should also feature highly on the list of priorities in conditioning the office space for The Great Return. More than a coffee machine, microwave, and refrigerator in the corner of the staff room, what is more helpful is a fully-equipped kitchen that employees can socialize in as they cook nutritious, energizing food and create that home-from-home touch.
- Play And Day-Care Areas
Childcare is a highly influential factor for those considering the return to the office. Many companies are now offering subsidized care, prioritized enrolment in near-site centers, and other benefits for their employees. The pandemic has made us realize that co-working with our children — while not always our first choice — is possible in some scenarios, and executives will do well to accommodate children in the office.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the office should be a ballpark. But specific child-friendly working areas are an interesting consideration for corporate America on days when childcare fails, or during school breaks, which as we know, do not always coincide with parents’ vacation periods.
- Chill-Out Zones
During the stint of remote work, employees came to realize that the working day does not have to be a solid 9-5 with 30 minutes programmed for lunch. The day was set up according to employees’ needs, which include time for rest and relaxation. The post-pandemic office that has a variety of rooms or spaces, including nap rooms, seems like a much wiser choice for employees who can take responsibility for their own day and build their work schedule around what works for them.
Google is one of many corporate giants that are pro-nap, as evidence is pointing to a range of health and well-being advantages for companies whose employees’ needs are regularly met, even when sleeping on the job sounds counterintuitive. Facebook, Ben & Jerry’s, and Cisco are also in the office nap club.
5. Personal Areas
By far the most resounding request from employees returning to work is personal space, according to findings from Clutch.co. This is where most of the work gets done, after all. Furnishings and layouts that promote privacy go as standard in return for work office renovations.
The Future Of Work
Living through such a historical occurrence, as is the coronavirus pandemic, has taken its toll on our mental health, to the extent that many employees are concerned for their health as they step back into the workplace. Many have seen those close to them suffer, so it is only natural that these employees are asking themselves what steps their companies are taking to ensure workplace safety — basic steps such as disinfection, hand sanitizer and a recommendation of face masks can all contribute toward a safer working environment.
Work practices and environments that value the well-being of their employees by recreating a homely environment in their worksites, and grant workers the freedom to fully leverage these perks, stand in good stead for post-pandemic survival.
- Not even a fifth of employees are as inspired by the idea of returning to the office full-time
- Working from home offered us benefits that the workplace must recreate to compete
- Post-pandemic offices need to be multi-functional and cater to our diverse needs as people, not only facilitate our job