Luring staff back to the office post-pandemic has been more challenging than anyone would have imagined. Remote and hybrid working patterns have allowed employees to enjoy a better work-life balance, to engage in wellbeing activities and to spend more time with friends and family whilst still delivering against their objectives.
But there are some firms who would prefer for their workforce to be in a central location, and these businesses are employing innovative new strategies to make the office a fun and diverse place to be.
Why should staff return to work?
This is the question on everybody's lips. If they can do their job effectively from home, why can't they just keep doing that?
Some argue that remote working destabilises a workforce. When people cannot easily approach each other in person to discuss minor issues and have to rely on phone calls, video conferences and emails, the message can become distorted and escalate rapidly into disagreements. This has a negative impact on unit cohesion and can lead to staff members experiencing stress and anxiety that perhaps would not occur should they be in an office environment.
Others maintain that clients prefer to engage within a professional environment, and working from home or a cafe does not offer them the privacy and security that they require to discuss potentially sensitive topics.
Other businesses argue that there is a financial benefit to their employees returning to work. By reducing their time spent at home, they will make savings on their energy bills, which equates to increased disposable income at the end of every month.
How businesses are encouraging the return to office working
Mandating that staff return to work has a negative effect. The Great Resignation of 2021 is proof of this, as thousands of UK employees resigned in a move that devastated businesses and the wider economy. Staff who enjoy working remotely cannot be ordered back into work - those who know their worth and are confident of securing work elsewhere would rather resign than comply with such a demand.
Instead, businesses are looking for the carrot that will entice their employees back into the office. They are offering incentives such as improved team morale, better collaboration opportunities, a greater chance of career development and on-the-job training that cannot be delivered remotely.
They are also refreshing and enhancing the work environment to make it as appealing as possible to a workforce that is reluctant to return. Recently making headlines is the Canada Water development .
Just ten minutes away from Bond Street, the Canada Water Dockside is well connected to the City of London with easy commuter routes into east and central London. Set in a 4.5 acre site, the developer Art-Invest Real Estate intends to create two new commercial buildings which will complement the site and provide access to the surrounding 130 acres of green space.
This flexible development has sustainability at its core and will provide workspace for up to ten thousand people. They will be accommodated in either the A1 building, which will be 24 storeys tall, or A2 which will be 11 storeys tall. These landmark buildings will incorporate many environmental features as well as providing workers with new places to eat and drink, to meet with friends, family and colleagues and to relax in a stunning setting overlooking the water.
The facilities will include opportunities for employees to engage in health and wellness activities, and a community feel will be nurtured to create an environment that staff want to immerse themselves in.
It is hoped that by providing modern, future-focussed facilities such as these, close to the heart of the city but with a stunning natural outlook, employees will not only agree to return to the office, but look forward to doing so. These new buildings will offer businesses the opportunity to expand and grow whilst recognising the needs of their workforce.
In conclusion, there are many ways in which businesses can look to attract staff to the workplace, but creating an environment in which they wish to immerse themselves is surely a sensible measure that should be prioritised, in addition to seeking improvements to the employee value proposition on offer.