Are you struggling with getting your hybrid teams to come into the office either by encouragement or incentives? You’re not alone.
With inflation at 40-year highs, increases in the cost of livingare impacting everything from the price of food, energy, child and elder care. It’s no wonder that having a poor work and life balance and well-being are top reasons that some employees have quit their jobs or are practicing a form of quiet quitting. Gone are the days of spending long hours in an office 5 days a week and commuting long distances.
Employees want the flexibility to choose a working model that best suits their life and family needs. Survey after survey confirms it. Our own data finds 85% of workers prefer a hybrid working model.
The good news is that hybrid teams are willing to return to the office several days a week. It’s what a flexible model is all about. And there are some very human reasons for it. A real need for in-person socialization. To reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness from working through a pandemic. The need for mutual respect andbeing heardand supported by peers and managers.
Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, a study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, even finds “remote employees (57%) say they’ll consider a switch to hybrid.”But working from the office needs to be worth it for employees. The worth-it equation is different for everyone.
Go deeper with our complete guide to hybrid work.
There are some new strategies companies and managers can use to help make it easier and go beyond the usual tactics of free lunches and commuting stipends. Those methods are now becoming table stakes. Here are some ways to help employees spend quality time collaborating with peers when in the office.
What if there was a way to make commuting into the office feel a lot more like a choice and not a burden? There is. And it comes from behavioral science. Your parents might also call it nudging. At least, that’s how consulting giant McKinseydescribes it.
Nudging is a way to help employees “make the best choice by designing the options in a way that influences, but doesn’t restrict, the outcome.” It’s subtle persuasion without any feelings of threat or force. Ultimately, employees need to feel it is a choice. And it is one we know we need and want.
“If you look at the surveys, the key reason that people come into work is to see colleagues and work with colleagues,” says Stanford economist Nick Bloom in the article “What We Now Know About Hybrid Work” from this year. “When you ask people, when you come in to work, would you like your colleagues to be there, 80% say yes.”
For Workplace Strategists and Facilities Managers: Design workplace choice options into employee workflows
In its blog “Returning to the office can be a choice, not a challenge,” McKinsey offers guidance on how to put choice architecture into practice via small design changes:
“For example, calendar and/or resource booking data can be used to notify employees when their colleagues are statistically likely to be in the office. The magnetic presence of collaborators and friends could inspire someone to make the commute.”
We could not agree more. Our own customer data reflects this pain point which is why we recently launched a Condeco Microsoft Teams app to help give clarity on schedules and locations and make personal and meeting space reservation simple, easy, and transparent.
McKinsey offers a little more guidance here in these three steps:
- Identify the moments that matter
- Design nudges around these moments
- Test, refine, and automate
“Many of our customers are facing difficulties in getting their workforce back to the office,” says Condeco Senior Product Manager, Parul Soni. “The Teams app helps with this by encouraging users to share their office schedule with their team, allowing them to see which days to join to maximize their productivity. It also provides certainty that, when they are in the office, they have the right space to work and collaborate.”
For HR and People Operations Managers: Create a workplace value proposition that supports healthy work and life balance
Several years ago, defining why we go into an office would have seemed odd. But today, the workplace is being redefined by the employee experience. And that experience can be virtually anywhere. Creating the culture you want requires a reevaluation of what is important.
And for organizations that want to build successful teams that trust each other and produce great work, it might be time to create a new workplace value proposition.
“A workplace value proposition represents the organizational culture, benefits and interactions employees experience when working on-site. For the organization, it’s ‘why we come to the workplace,’” says Kristin Barry and Ben Wigert of Gallup research in their article “Going Back to Work in the Office: It Has to Be Worth It.”
Here, Barry and Wigert offer specific guidance on how to focus a workplace value proposition by assessing and defining these four areas in detail:
And ultimately, it comes down to leadership managing with empathy and trusting employees to create and maintain healthy work and life balance.
For department managers: Reinforce the value of quality time together and reuniting with work friends
Get employees excited about going back and seeing who is in the office every week. Why is this so important? People who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers and produce higher-quality work, according to Gallup research.
“Managers bring the workplace value proposition to life by talking with their team members about what returning to work will look like for each individual and the team as a whole,” reflects Barry and Wigert. “These conversations aren’t easy — they require managers to acknowledge the difficulties faced and contributions made over the past year-plus all while being authentic and tailoring each conversation to the individual’s situation.”
For company leaders: Create more a formal workplace plan that maximizes collaboration over long hours in the office and long hours commuting
Nearly 40% of employees say their biggest hybrid-work challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office, according to Microsoft’s report. Everyone loves the flexibility of hybrid work. But if you spend the time and money commuting hours a day to be in the office and your team isn’t there on the same day or if you’re just spending most of your time on video conference calls, that worth-it equation changes a lot.
To help, Microsoft’s WorkLab team put together a comprehensive set of use cases to help organizations make better use of in-person time. It covers everything from team building and bonding, strengthening weak ties and in-person brainstorming to the value of 1 on 1 time in person and having a flexible office design itself. They also call for experimenting with on-site team time and offer a few specific ways to mix it up including:
- Two days in the office per week, with one day optimized for team bonding, and one day optimized for one-on-one connections between teammates and broader networks.
- A team on-site day followed by a meeting-free workday or work block. This model can help people focus their on-site time on team building, collaboration, and connection since they know they’ll be able to catch up the day after.
- Several on-site days, with in-person meetings built around core hours so that people can avoid rush hour and schedule their workday around school pickup and other commitments.
Microsoft suggests relegating these core hours from 10 am to 2 pm to maintain healthy work and life balance.
How Condeco By Eptura is innovating with choice architecture: Condeco + Microsoft Teams
Powered by Condeco Microsoft 365 integration, our latest app for Microsoft Teams helps everyone across your company work smarter, together.
- Encourage people to work from the office by prompting employees to choose and share their in-office schedules
- Allow users to easily choose, set, and share their in-office schedule for the week with their teams
- Sync Condeco-managed bookings with your Outlook calendar
- Simplify workspace booking
See it in action:
See it for yourself.