The physical office has the potential to improve employee productivity and help companies build stronger corporate cultures.
A report from researchers at the University of Chicago, for example, finds that remote employees complete fewer hours of work per week than their in-office counterparts. That report is supported by a recent paper in Nature Human Behavior, which discovered that Microsoft workers are 30% less productive during periods of remote work. Though the prevalence of remote work has grown with the pandemic, research shows that — even in a post-COVID world — in-office work simply makes employees more productive.
However, increased worker output isn’t the only benefit offered by the office. Physical workplaces also help employees network and work collaboratively, while instilling a sense of purpose that often gets lost in fully-remote settings. As the Harvard Business Review says: “Being around a group of people who are working toward a common mission reinforces that goal in everyone in the workplace.” In other words, the office helps strengthen a company’s mission by bringing coworkers closer together.
The Slow Return to the Office
The research is clear: in-person work increases worker productivity. It helps employees for more meaningful connections at the office and allows companies to build strong corporate cultures.
But now, over two years out from the start of the pandemic, many companies are having difficulty getting their employees back into the office. 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%. Lower occupancy rates are still all too common, which means that most workers have yet to return to their physical office spaces. In an attempt to encourage employees to return, some companies have implemented elaborate one-off perks at their offices and corporate campuses. However, these have largely failed to bring employees back to work enthusiastically.
This is because, before COVID-19, most workers had no choice but to commute to the office almost every day. It was a workplace standard, one that was seldom disputed. Now, in the wake of the pandemic and the Great Resignation, expectations around workplace habits have shifted.
Meeting Greater Expectations
According to HqO’s State of Workplace Experience report, 92% of office landlords say that employees want more from their workplaces. The report also finds that 88% of workers value hybrid work equally to healthcare and other key employee benefits. McKinsey data reinforces this narrative: in a recent report, the firm discovered that many workers are leaving their jobs due to unsatisfactory workplace environments. These trends help us explain why companies are having trouble getting workers back in the office: COVID-19 and a chaotic labor market have given employees more choice. Now, people can choose to work where and how they want, altering the future of the workplace as we know it.
For some employers, the task of creating a more meaningful workplace experience might seem daunting. Fortunately, solutions exist for those who are looking to solve this problem. By using workplace experience technology to bring both fun and utility to office spaces, companies can remove roadblocks that keep employees away, while also adding new programs that give employees a good reason to come to the office. These changes allow companies to meet their productivity goals, increase employee satisfaction, and attract and retain the best talent in a tight labor market.
In this blog, we’ll talk about the overall value of workplace experience. We’ll also look at a few of the ways that employers can add fun and utility to improve the workplace experience and get workers back in the office.
Defining Workplace Experience
So, what is workplace experience?
It’s a term that has become increasingly common, but it can take on many different meanings depending on the company. To understand the benefits of improving the workplace experience, it’s important to first have a clear understanding of both the term and its importance for employers.
Simply put, workplace experience (or WX) consists of the experiences, people, and spaces that employees interact with in the workplace — whether in the physical office or remote. These components can be fueled and amplified by technology, empowering people to do their best work regardless of location. Below are just a few examples of this dynamic.
- Building access control
- Programs and events
- Menus and order ahead
- Room booking
- Parking & transit
- Office socializing
- Vendor/services interactions
- Coworker interactions
- Workplace culture
- Work from home
- Office common areas
- Satellite offices
Once a company connects employees to each other, their overall workplace culture, and the physical spaces and resources that the company offers, they will be able to generate both short- and long-term business success.
Poor Workplace Experience Powered the Great Resignation
According to recent research by McKinsey, “Lack of support for employee health and well-being” is the fifth most common reason why employees leave their jobs without a new one in hand. Other factors like “Unsafe workplace environment,” “Noninclusive, unwelcoming, and disconnected community” and “Inadequate resource availability,” all ranked within the top ten.
These findings are significant because they show us that the employees behind the Great Resignation aren’t necessarily leaving their old jobs just for higher pay. Instead, the McKinsey data demonstrates that many workers are actually leaving their old positions due to concerns about their own well-being. They’re leaving because they feel disconnected from — and poorly served by — their workplaces.
Or, in other words, they’re actually leaving due to a poor workplace experience.
Improving the Workplace Experience with Fun and Utility
Employers can address these employee pain points and boost employee satisfaction by bringing fun and utility to their offices.
By adding utility to their spaces (with tools like mobile access, room and desk booking, and more), companies can ensure that their employees have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs. By adding fun to their offices (through expanded and optimized programming, fitness or financial health classes, and so on), employers can build more meaningful workplace connections and help employees strike a healthier work-life balance. Together, these two kinds of improvements enhance the workplace experience and help make the office a destination for hybrid work.
The HqO app allows employers to add fun and utility to their spaces with a wide range of seamless integrations and product capabilities. HqO’s integrated workplace experience platform also provides employers with real-time data on space and amenity utilization. This allows companies to better tailor their programming and events offerings to meet the preferences of their employees. With these and other features, HqO’s technology helps you transform your office into a destination for hybrid work.
Want to learn more about how your company can use technology to improve the workplace experience? Download our recent Attracting Workers with Fun and Utility guide.