How to Transform Your Office into a Place Employees Want to Return to

happy man returning to office

Is the work-from-home bubble bursting? In 2020, many firms cited increased productivity and employee satisfaction with working from home. As the pandemic dragged into 2022, the enthusiasm for working from home seems to have cooled for employers and employees alike.

Employees express frustration with the monotony of working from home, many saying it blurs the line between work and home life and creates an imperative for employees to be available 24/7. Working from home has also distanced coworkers by eliminating the informal and spontaneous communication that comes with sharing the same physical space. 

Employers have expressed dissatisfaction with visibility into employee activity, some even going as far as tracking keystrokes or eye movement to ensure employees are actually working when working from home. Some have also pointed out the difficulties in identifying candidates for promotion without regular face time.

The bottom line: employees are starting to demand more satisfaction from their work and employers feel like they have less control over their employees’ satisfaction at work in work-from-home situations.

The current solution: the hybrid work model.

The Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index found that more than 70 percent of workers wanted remote options to continue, but more than 65 percent wanted more time in person with their teams. As a result of these differing work preferences, Microsoft found that most surveyed business leaders were considering complete redesigns of their offices.

Recent surveys also reveal that employees prefer hybrid work models, which seems to be a great compromise as businesses are increasingly adopting hybrid models for employees who want the flexibility to choose between face-to-face and virtual work environments.

Companies moving toward long-term hybrid work models can start to rethink their office footprints. Right-sizing the workspace – perhaps even consolidating multiple locations – and implementing flexible solutions like private pods, desk hoteling and scrub spaces can help companies be more efficient with their real estate investment while providing more appealing solutions to employees.

Here are four simple steps to begin re-thinking your corporate space to fit the demands of today’s workforce:

1. Determine the guidelines for your hybrid solution.

Consider if everyone will be required to come to the office on certain days or a certain number of days. Think about how the office may fluctuate if everyone comes to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays and works from home the rest of the week. By understanding the timing, requirements and frequency, there may be days the office will need to accommodate the entire workforce and days when your space will be mostly empty. 

2. Don’t be afraid to test and tweak.

Many employers have started back in the office or have implemented hybrid work solutions on a trial basis, and most have reported that their first solution was not the one that worked best. Be sure to communicate openly with employees and get feedback on what is working and what isn’t. And don’t rush into a new lease or renegotiate your footprint until you’ve tested and learned which solutions are going to work best for your company. 

3. Understand which activities benefit from in-person collaboration to optimize the office.

If there’s one takeaway from working from home, it’s that some work activities are better performed outside of a busy office environment. By breaking down the activities of each role, you can gain valuable insight into the nature of the daily activities and determine which functions need to take place in the office. If project teams need to gather periodically, focus on creating or improving your conference spaces.

4. Consider hiring experts to help when ordering new equipment or décor or decommissioning space.

Interior design professionals can be pricey, but finding one with the right experience in your industry and insight into procurement channels can bring tremendous value. 

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers can also present opportunities for savings and a relief valve during times of transition. 3PL partners can receive shipments for new equipment and store them until your space is ready for installation. Beyond providing temporary storage space, some 3PL offer add-on services like finding buyers for decommissioned fixtures, furnishings and equipment (FF&E) or unpacking, installing and positioning items according to your specifications. 

The return-to-office presents a significant opportunity for employers to signal investment in their employees and save money on overhead costs. While some employees may be hesitant to return to the office, many others are looking favorably on it. 

Whether right-sizing, remodeling, consolidating or expanding, Armstrong — Huntsville can help make your office redesign successful. Our award-winning crew facilitates a seamless transition that minimizes disruption for your operation. Get started today by calling 256.792.6284 or requesting a free quote online.