“The latest quarterly survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers released […] by Future Forum found that only about one in three globally are actually working full-time in the office,” writes Jena McGregor in a recent Forbes article. “But only about one in five actually want to work at the office full-time — the lowest rate the survey has found in two years — suggesting a disconnect between the two.”
This data is of little surprise. In today’s world, the vast majority of employees are operating remotely or within hybrid work models. In fact, according to Kastle’s Back to Work Barometer, U.S. office occupancy levels were at 38% in March 2022 (far below a pre-pandemic peak of nearly 100%).
Low office occupancy levels pose a threat to employee productivity. For example, a recent paper in Nature Human Behavior discovered that Microsoft workers are 30% less productive during periods of remote work. Though the prevalence of remote work has grown with the pandemic, such research shows that in-office work simply makes employees more productive.
And that’s not all the office is good for. It also helps employees work more collaboratively and fosters a stronger sense of company culture. As the Harvard Business Review explains, “Being around a group of people who are working toward a common mission reinforces that goal in everyone in the workplace.”
An Engaging Return
With so much data in the market, how can corporate employers make sense of it all?
At this point in time, we can rely on two things: 1) that hybrid work models are likely to stay, and 2) that the significance of the physical office still exists in regards to running successful businesses.
Thus, the goal for employers is simple — they need to encourage the hybrid workforce to take advantage of physical office space. To do this, it all goes back to McGregor’s aforementioned quote: employees need to want to go into the office.
In today’s world, the office needs to be more attractive than at-home or remote work environments to encourage employees to return. This attraction encapsulates more than amenities or features that emphasize the physical space of the office — such as booking desks and rooms, or incorporating more collaboration space. Rather, it’s about features that bring about memorable workplace experiences.
Now, let’s talk about what that means.
More than a Building
It’s common to assume that the solution to making a space more attractive is to adorn it with all the bells and whistles you can think of. After all, we’ve all heard of the fancy Apple campuses with moving walls, incredible sustainability features, and state-of-the-art on-site facilities — who wouldn’t want to work there?
However, while those features are certainly noteworthy and admirable, they are not always realistic. Most companies have to work with much smaller budgets, or have to get the best use out of an existing office location with a predetermined infrastructure and floor plan.
Though adjusting the physical space of an office in the right ways can certainly be a bonus, it’s not the only thing companies should be paying attention to. In fact, investing in the right workplace technology can go above and beyond your physical space to elevate all aspects of your workplace — making it accessible and engaging for employees no matter where they work (which in turn encourages them to return to the office to benefit from more practical and meaningful resources and amenities).
Below are just some of the ways technology can help employers pique employees’ interest and keep them coming back to the office:
- Communication & Connection: Since hybrid employees are often separated from their peers (at least for certain periods of time), it’s more important than ever to maintain direct communication with them. With a workplace experience app, employees download the technology directly to their smartphones. This allows employers to open up seamless communication loops with their employees, thus eliminating many of the communication challenges associated with hybrid work. Workplace experience technology also offers ongoing updated content, allowing employers to deliver attention-grabbing mobile alerts that can attract employees back to the office, as well as unique events and programming that can involve the larger community.
- Coordination: To save employees time and foster better collaboration and productivity at work, technology can give employers the ability to coordinate their business strategies with a uniform cadence that reaches all workers, regardless of where they might be. Utility features of a workplace experience platform — like room scheduling and card-less mobile access — also help eliminate stress from employees’ schedules by making it easier to coordinate with colleagues in the office (which also showcases all of the resources available in the office for employees).
- Creativity: Disjointed workflows hinder employee creativity, thus it’s important to remove friction throughout the work day. Because workplace experience technology encompasses all major aspects of the office and home office environment, it gives workers the freedom to be more creative. Technology also improves the accessibility of important resources in and out of the office, which allows employees to choose where and how they work best to be truly innovative.
- Culture: With today’s employees in and out of the office on a number of different days, it can be harder for companies to create a uniform corporate culture. Mobile notifications and custom polling help employers tailor their engagement strategies to keep their employees satisfied and engaged. In-app polling is also a critical tool that can be used to boost engagement; by sending out surveys through a workplace experience app, employers can better understand employee sentiment and use that information to keep their employees engaged and productive beyond the brick-and-mortar workplace.
Experiences of the Future
All of these technology capabilities are more than capabilities: they’re experiences that enhance the value of both the physical and digital workplace environments.
To help employers meet these objectives, HqO offers a best-in-class workplace experience technology solution that powers hybrid success worldwide. With ongoing customer support, unique product capabilities, and unparalleled programming options, HqO can help your hybrid employees succeed during and after the initial transition to hybrid work.
Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo today to see our workplace experience solutions in action.