The Ultimate Return To Office Guide: 15 Ways Businesses Can Encourage Employees Back Into The Office
Cards on the table.
To many, the mere mention of the word ‘office’ conjures up images of uninspiring greyscale workstations, melting into low-pile coffee-flecked carpet tiles bathed in icy fluorescent lighting, the general hum of dreary discontent broken only by the jarring drone of the communal photocopier.
It’s no wonder almost 90 percent of those aged between 35 and 44 who can work remotely would choose to do so.
“Come back!” employers cry. “It’s about the culture.”
Sorry to break it to you, but office culture has been stuck in the dark ages for a long, long time.
It’s time to step into the light (so long as it’s not fluorescent).
Enticing Employees Back Into The Workplace
As purveyors of arguably one of the most delightful work perks, we felt it was our duty to scour the deepest, darkest corners of the web to offer employers the ultimate list of ways to make the workplace somewhere the Irish workforce actually WANTS to be.
In no particular order, let’s dive in.
1) Provide Home Comforts
Try to create a welcoming, comfortable office environment by ditching the utilitarian design in favour of something more inviting and homely.
Introduce soft seating and tactile fabrics throughout, heck, you could even stock up on cosy blankets for warming those bones after a chilly winter morning commute!
2) Exhibit Local Artwork
Create a more inspiring workspace by introducing art throughout the office (no, we’re not talking about those awful corporate abstract rentals).
How about supporting your local community by collaborating with local galleries and artists?
Exhibiting art within the office can provide invaluable exposure for creatives within the community whilst making the workspace more intriguing for visitors and employees. Win-Win!
3) Keeping Your Cool
Office always too hot? Or maybe too cold? Time to retire those dusty oil-filled radiators and finally get that air conditioning system sorted out.
A high-quality AC system will help to reduce bacteria and dust particles, odours and potential allergens benefitting occupants with clean, filtered and temperature-regulated air.
Not to mention, with the cost of energy impacting workers harder than ever, employees could even stand to save money on their energy bills. Not a bad reason to rock up to the office?
4) Convenience and hygiene
If you haven’t done so already, installing shower facilities can help encourage employees to run, jog or cycle to work (#greenschemes).
Shower facilities can also encourage employees to indulge in their sporting and wellbeing hobbies during lunch breaks.
Let’s face it, no one wants to be sat at their desk smelling like a pair of musty old gym socks, so showers are a must.
We’re not making this up (promise!) but scent has the power to transform the way we feel, think, work and play.
Studies conducted in the US, Japan and Malaysia have found that the right scent can reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, increase productivity and make workers feel a greater sense of belonging.
Just think about those outrageously expensive candles and diffusers adorning your home. How do they make you feel? It’s aromatherapy 101, the same psychology can be applied to office space.
6) Food & Drink
Feeling peckish? At home, satiating those hunger pangs is no bother. A quick rustle through the fridge, perhaps pop a couple of slices in the toaster, or maybe you’re feeling cheffy and a hot meal is on the cards.
Sadly, many workplaces still haven’t got the memo.
Workplace cafés and restaurants can transform the employee workplace experience.
A comprehensive food at work offer has been shown to increase social interactions, promote a culture of health and wellbeing and even improve employee productivity.
It can also help employees to save time and money vs. home meal preparation.
How would you feel if you knew there were delicious, nutritious and great value meals available at your office? Would that help tip the balance? We thought so.
Learn more about why Ireland’s leading businesses choose to partner with us.
7) Dedicated Grocery And Mail Drop-Off Points.
We’ve all been there, the long commute to work, hours in the office only to be faced by the inevitable rush hour traffic. What’s worse, is you’ve still got to pencil in a trip to the supermarket, provided you can make it in time.
So, why not provide employees with the flexibility to have their shopping delivered to the office?
A dedicated drop-off point, complete with refrigerated storage is all it takes to turn that post-work supermarket sweep into a peaceful canter home.
Better still, how about providing the facility to order freshly made meals direct to your office?
*Shameless plug incoming*
Compass Ireland’s ‘Copper Pan Kitchen’ delivers freshly prepared meals to organisations around Dublin City! It’s perfect for those businesses unable to provide cooking facilities on-site and provides yet another convenient way for employees to fuel up after a long day in the office.
Get in touch to find out more.
8) Gyms, Studios and Fitness Facilities
A recent study from RunRepeat found that remote workers who had recently returned to the office were more inclined to exercise when asked to commute to work!
Almost 2,500 workers responded to the poll, suggesting that working from the office encourages a healthier attitude towards working out.
A study by Aviva , found that 83% of companies who had added health and fitness benefits saw a decrease in sickness absence as a result.
The on-site perk could help to improve retention and recruitment, whilst helping employees to save money on pricey gym memberships.
9) Social Events
Ah, that fabled office ‘culture’ we poked fun at earlier.
As it turns out, it’s not something that just exists, but rather something that takes considerable time and effort to build. What better way to begin the journey than by organising communal events in and around your workplace?
One of the keys to developing a great community at the workplace is by increasing the number of non-work-related interactions between your workforce.
Games nights, food tastings, hosting guest speakers… Anything you can think of to keep your teams engaged beyond the confines of work.
Compass Ireland deliver dozens of exciting workplace events every week, from street food pop-ups to courtyard BBQ’s, fine-dining dinner clubs and more.
Follow the Compass Ireland LinkedIn and Instagram channels to stay up to date with all the latest food-filled-fun. Just prepare to feel a big dose of FOMO.
Events help to break down departmental and hierarchal divides, that way, things like rank won’t get in the way of building great workplace relationships.
Oh, and whatever you do: don’t label them a ‘team building exercise!’
10) Dynamic Design
Wherever possible, businesses should consider implementing dynamic design principles into their office philosophy.
Mixing open-plan workstations with standing desks, meeting pods and moveable wall panels can help to create spaces that inspire free movement and collaboration.
Dynamic design empowers employees to choose a space that fits their specific work needs at any given time.
Check out this article by furniture design gurus Vitra to see what we’re talking about: https://www.vitra.com/en-mx/office/projects/themes/dynamic-spaces
11) Embrace Green Space
Indoor plants are a great way to soften harsh office aesthetics and have been shown to reduce stress and improve productivity.
‘Biophilic design’ (the technical term for office greenery) has been subject to numerous studies, notably the ‘green versus lean office space’ study in 2014.
Researchers from Australia, The UK and The Netherlands observed three office spaces over several months and found that greenery significantly improved employee satisfaction, heightened self-reported productivity and improved general perception of the air quality.
12) Welcoming Furry Friends Into The Workspace
Unsurprisingly, Covid lockdown restrictions sparked a significant increase in pet ownership, with many remote workers seeking out canine companionship.
Although pet-friendly policies are becoming increasingly common in the workplace, research is only starting to emerge about how the presence of dogs can positively influence the working environment.
‘Dogs at the Workplace: A Multiple Case Study’ found that participants noted a positive impact on social cohesion, a feeling of community, and an increase in general information exchange.
On the contrary, the inflexible permission of pets at work can create pressure and stress. Eek.
13) Remove Friction From The Daily Commute
We’re going to go out on a limb here to say that no one enjoys commuting.
Rising fuel costs and rail fares, rush-hour traffic, the shoulder-to-shoulder platform shuffle… It’s no wonder that those with a proclivity for remote work avoid it at all costs.
According to recruitment website Monster, transport and travel are growing in popularity for employee benefits. It has also been theorised that resistance (traffic, delays, cancellations etc.) contributes to commuting stress through the mechanism of perceived control (Sposato, Röderer, & Cervinka, 2012).
So, what can employers do about it?
Subsidising the elements of the commute could see office occupancy levels rise to all-time highs. Complimentary EV charging facilities and subsidised rail travel are just a couple of ways to make the commute that little bit less excruciating.
Aside from saving the employee money, it emphasises the value your business attributes to bringing workers together.
14) Stock Up on Tech & Resources
There’s a limit to the resources most companies will afford to employees working from home. Laptop? Check.
Office Chair? Check.
For most, that’s about it! Keeping ‘the good stuff’ at the office is a legitimate way to build value around the workplace.
Superfast Wi-Fi? The latest high-tech IT hardware? High-def screens and projectors? All the gadgets and gizmo’s an employee could ever wish for? Check.
It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of offices that are still clinging to the last decade’s dusty equipment. Sound familiar?
15) Consult Your Workforce!
Our final and perhaps most important tip: if you’re struggling to encourage employees to return to the office, ask them what would make the return more enticing!
A catch-all order demanding their return will only serve to foster discontent and resentment. Conversely, making the return a collaborative exercise allows employers to uncover objections and opportunities that would have otherwise remained hidden.
Set up feedback surveys and representative groups to ideate what the ideal return to the office looks like.
Be honest with yourself. Think long and hard about what changes need to be made to make the office a more desirable place to be and action them post-haste!
About Compass Ireland
Named ‘Most Innovative Foodservice Provider 2022’ by the All Ireland Business Association, Compass Ireland is the driving force in the Irish food and hospitality industry, serving over 40,000 meals a day and supporting over 130 sites across the country.
Our staffed and fully automated food services include workplace restaurants and cafés, home and workplace meal deliveries, events hospitality and more.
We’re the pioneers of Ireland’s first frictionless food market: Market x Flutter, delighting customers with a wide range of grab & go meals, freshly baked goods, fruit, snacks and convenience items, without the need for checking out.
We currently serve approximately 40,000 hot and chilled meals every day to partners occupying a wide range of sectors Inc. Business & Industry, Education, Events & Stadia, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare.
Recently, the company achieved Ibec’s regarded KeepWell Mark, also featuring within Ibec’s 2022 index of the “Top 100 companies leading in wellbeing,” recognising businesses who excel in supporting employee mental health and wellbeing.
To learn more about how you could welcome nation’s most desired work perk into your business, drop us a line, we’d love to chat!