Covid lockdowns created a new way of work—primarily work from home (WFH)—and, as it appears that things are finally getting back on track, many workers are reluctant to return to the office.
While there are many ideas floating around about how to get workers back, from financial incentives and free lunch programmes to mandates, there’s one area that should not be overlooked — the office itself.
The scientific research leaves no room for doubt, such as findings by the Journal of Human Resource Management that concluded that an “attractive and supportive work environment is critical to job satisfaction. Work environments have numerous properties that may influence both physical and mental well-being. A quality work spot is fundamental to keep workers on their various task and work effectively.”
First up, it’s important to lay the solid groundwork. You want your office to be attractive, comfortable, and efficient. The seeds of this are in the basic setup. First up, you should give your office a fresh coat of paint and update the decor.
Next, you should ensure that all of your equipment is up to date. The easier it is to work, the more likely workers are to want to return. You should also pay attention to how your office enables work. For example, your workstations can give workers privacy and absorb sound (See Buzz Privacy Screen). Distractions are a major reason why some people prefer to work from home.
Setting up a flow
Next up, you want to make sure the design of your office flows, in both a visual and practical sense. Your office should have clearly defined “zones,” each with a clear purpose. Desks in one area, office appliances such as printers and scanners in another, and then designated meeting areas. It’s crucial that the office be easy to navigate, while each area is geared towards usability.
You can’t forget about amenities, such as break rooms, which include fridges and coffee machines. When people need a break, they need a comfortable space where they can, funnily enough, feel at home, before getting back to work.
It’s also important to note that break areas should be sectioned away so that those on a break can chat comfortably without disturbing those working.
The finer details
Last but not least are the finer details. Consider adding some attractive artwork to the walls of the office, and perhaps springing for chairs with extra padding, and a better brand of coffee.
While these small additional expenses may add up, they also increase the value of the work environment to those in it, making it more attractive. Small comforts are, after all, another thing WFH fans cite often.
Allow for flexibility
As an additional note, consider an offer of flexibility. Rather than demanding workers return for good, it might be worthwhile opting for a hybrid scheme. For example, make three days in the office, and two days WFH.
You can gear your fit out to this setup, by opting for a hot desk system and using some of the space formally for desks, for other purposes. For example, extra meeting areas, or even recreational areas.
With the right fit-out, you can make your office the place to be. Just make sure to establish solid groundwork before moving on to the overall setup, and then adding the finishing touches. Don’t be afraid to ask your workers what they want out of an office and accommodate them accordingly. A collaborative spirit fosters loyalty.