During the pandemic, businesses worldwide adapted to a new way of working. Now we all know we can work from home. But we also found out what we greatly miss... the casual catch-up with a colleague behind the coffee machine, a spontaneous meeting, or simply a great place to work. The office is here to stay. And we've summed why here.
1. Sense of belonging
Around 45% of employees do not feel connected to their coworkers and organization while working remotely. The feeling of belonging –which is essential in employee happiness– is one of the main reasons for employees to go back to the office. Employees need to feel part of an organization to do their best work.
According to Leesman –the world’s leading independent assessor on measuring employee workplace experience– employees have access to all the programs they need to work from home (90%) and all the information they need to do the job remotely (84.9%). The survey they did among 144,581 respondents showed that employees may have all the tools they need to work from home, but there is still a lot missing.
Although sitting behind your webcam in sweatpants and a blouse may be comfortable, it’s not always enough. The rule of personal communication from Professor Albert Mehrabian in the 1970s stated that our communication exists of 55% body language, 38% voice and tone, and 7% spoken words. Working remotely therefore doesn't always meet 55% of our needs for personal communication.
Facial expressions are more likely to be understood in person and learning is easier to do face-to-face. In 2020, almost half of employees (45%) did not felt supported learning from others while working from home. BBC research shows that employees who start a new job remotely, have to advocate more for themselves than they like.
Next to that, team members do not know what the new guy is capable of and in return, the new colleague has no long-term relationships that help him get the job done. This leads to stagnation in learning and weaker soft skills because employees simply are not getting enough face-to-face contact.
Employees in the office all have a similar place to work, but employees at home unfortunately do not. People may deal with an unfit home office, homeschooling children, or feelings of loneliness. Even though a lot of companies helped employees with setting up their home office by handing out equipment, some employees may still do not like to work from home. On the other hand, some employees might prefer to work from home as much as possible.
As an employer, you should be able to offer your employees the choice to work from home or in the office. This is essential in giving people the autonomy they need to feel happy in their jobs. Giving employees freedom and flexibility over when and where they work is key and can boost employee well-being. Research from BCG shows that 60% of employees want flexibility in where and where they work in the future. If you take away the option of going to the office at all, you may lose part of your workforce to other companies that do offer choice.
Teams who work together frequently solve complex problems more easily, build better relationships, and feel better about their work. And when employees feel like they belong to a team, they just feel happier and healthier.
On the ohter hand, while working remotely, collaboration and creativity can be stifled. Microsoft found out that the shift to online and hybrid meetings decreased the time we spend collaborating. And in 2020 only 38.1% of employees felt supported doing creative thinking from home.
In 2020, only 52.6% of employees felt supported having unplanned meetings. That makes perfect sense, since it’s easier to bump into your colleague from sales in-person than on Slack. However, it's a problem since those moments of spontaneous interaction are where the magic happens.
Spontaneous meetings are perfect for running over a specific topic of discussion with your team or team member. They are often productive because don’t cost time planning, and the topic is already clear.
Be ready for the next chapter of work
Businesses need to show team the benefits of coming into the office. Incentivizing them with spaces for creativity and collaboration is part of this, but they also need to actively listen to increase autonomy and meet employee needs at every level.
This is where our workplace experience technology platform can help. Not only does it allow employees to connect with teammates and book shifts on the same days, but it gives insights into exactly what they enjoy about your office and what they'd like to see more of. Get in touch with our workplace experience advisors to find out more.