Over the last year or two, as flexible and hybrid working has become a long-term reality, almost everything we’ve heard in the media has been about people wanting to work from home as much as possible. While that’s true in many cases – and especially in the immediate aftermath of COVID restrictions, when many were still wary about returning to the office – the tide is starting to turn a little. And somewhat surprisingly, it’s the younger end of the labor force that is leading the shift.
In the UK, recent research conducted by Bright Network has found that 72% of Generation Z – those born from 1997 onwards – now want to work from the office at least three days a week. This is likely to be because they have realized how much organic learning they miss out on at home, and that the conversations they can have with co-workers in the office can be highly valuable in the formative stages of their careers. Additionally, younger employees are less likely to have enough space at home to have a dedicated home office environment, and working from the kitchen table next to a housemate long-term is unlikely to be viable.
All this means that what employers need to do to attract and retain talented employees isn’t necessarily as simple as letting them work from home. In this blog, we’ll highlight four key factors that talent is looking for when considering their current or future employment.
Firstly, employees don’t want to feel that they’re being forced into a working model that compromises them too much. That applies whether they’ve been mandated to work from the office all the time, working from home all the time, or working to a set hybrid model of home or office work on different days of the week.
Every employee is different, and each will have their own priorities and preferences, as well as their own idea of what a good work/life balance looks like. Allowing each individual employee to define their own working model, within reasonable operational parameters of the business, can give them the autonomy they crave.
Connected to the previous point, every employee will face times when they want or need to work from the office, whether that’s several times a week or on a very occasional basis. What they need to know is that whenever they come into the office, and whatever they’re coming in to do, they can guarantee that the workspaces they need will be ready and waiting for them.
There are two considerations involved in making this possible. The first is to deploy a workspace booking and management solution that allows all employees to search for and book the workspaces they need in advance. The second is to reshape the office environment and introduce many different types of workspace, from open-plan desks and breakout zones to formal meeting rooms and personal work pods, to maximize the choice available to each employee.
Even employees who like the solitude of working from home need to collaborate with their co-workers every so often, and even socialize with them to build strong professional relationships. And what the darkest days of the pandemic uncovered is that in these areas, video calls and digital communication are often poor substitutes for meeting up in person.
This is one of the reasons why the office has such a valuable part to play in modern business life, and shows how its role within an organization can be repositioned. The office can become a hub for collaboration and team-building, and be thought of as a place for creativity and positivity rather than just as a place for work.
Now more than ever, the sustainability of a business’s operations is being placed in high regard by employees, who want to feel that their employer is taking a socially responsible approach amid the fight against climate change. That means that any employer who can demonstrate how they take active steps to cut their carbon footprint and energy use will be favored by more current and prospective employees.
A reshaping of the workplace is one excellent way of achieving this. As flexible working means office headcounts are lower from one day to the next, reducing real estate by creating shared, bookable workspaces can generate a substantial reduction in energy use such as light, heat, ventilation and connectivity.