How to Attract People Back to the Office in 2021

As we move out of lockdown many businesses are beginning to make plans to get their teams back to the workplace. However, with over a year of homeworking behind us, we’ve established new ways of working from home and as such many employees are a little reluctant to return.

In order to attract employees back to the workplace you need to have a fundamental understanding of what it was that people liked so much about working from home, as well as what they disliked, then fuse these core themes into your workplace. By learning from the lockdown experience you can create a workplace that is mutually beneficial for you and your employees.

Consult with Your Team

Working from home has been a mixed experience depending on your personal circumstances. What has worked for some hasn’t worked well for others. Whilst some individuals were lucky enough to have a home office, others have spent 15-months+ working from their kitchen table. Working parents have also had childcare and homeschooling to deal with whilst in total lockdown. 

It’s therefore imperative that business owners consult with their employees to ensure they thoroughly understand each unique experience. Only through listening and building relationships will employees feel properly supported in their return to work. 

It’s also important to give your team an element of choice as to when they come back to the office, how often and in what capacity. This demonstrates empathy and creates further respect and trust between employee and employer.

Variety & Flexibility

A recent worldwide study found that  8 out of 10 countries ranked not having to commute as the biggest benefit of working from home, as it gave people a better work/life balance with more time to do activities they enjoy. 

The research also found that employees consider the ability to concentrate and focus, as well as varying their workspace around the home as significant benefits of being away from the office.

The above factors demonstrate the importance of increased variety and flexibility in the workplace. Hybrid working, where employees spend part of the working week at the office and the rest at home, is expected to be popular post-pandemic. This gives workers the best of both worlds, providing time to focus at home and time to work collaboratively as part of a team in the office.

Hybrid working lends itself to hotdesking, whereby employees aren’t assigned their own desk, but instead use whatever desk is available, whenever it’s required. This also means businesses can reduce their office footprint, saving space and money.

Physical & Emotional Wellbeing

Wellbeing at work has been a hot topic for a number of years now, but with a global pandemic comes further challenges relating to our mental and physical health.

Studies into physical health during the pandemic have given mixed results, with some suggesting we exercised more due to having an abundance of free time, whilst other research suggests we actually moved less as we were at home all day. Research into eating patterns during the pandemic is just as conflicting. With restaurants closed many turned to cooking at home, which is generally healthier. However, there was also a huge jump in snack and takeaway sales during the lockdown, suggesting we weren’t always making good food choices. 

There’s also the impact lockdown has had on our mental wellbeing. The Irish Medical Journal suggests that one in five people experienced significantly increased psychological distress at the height of the pandemic.

Most business leaders appreciate that happy and healthy employees work harder and achieve more, and there are many strategies business owner can implement to help boost the mental and physical wellbeing of their team, which will in turn help attract them back to the workplace. Below are a selection of ideas to consider.

Communication

Creating a culture where employees feel they can reach out to their colleagues and managers when they’re mentally struggling is extremely important in the modern workplace. Put in place readily available policies so that employees know who to speak to if they’re experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing, and ensure line managers are properly trained and regularly check in on their team. 

See Change is an organisation working towards reducing mental health stigma in the workplace. Their website is a fantastic source of information on how to improve mental wellbeing within the workplace. They have lots of free guides and resources to download and even offer specialist online workshops that will help equip your managers with the skills they need to deal with mental health issues.

Healthy Beverages & Snacks

Promote healthy eating by supplying your team with a complimentary selection of healthy refreshments. A water cooler offering chilled, ambient and sparkling water encourages hydration, which will help team members stay focused and alert.

Move More

Encourage your team to move more by offering a bike to work scheme or by organising group activities focused around exercise, such as lunchtime yoga or Friday afternoon rounders. Installing a shower in your office can also help encourage employees to cycle, or even run, to work. 

Standing desks also offer several health benefits including improving posture and burning more calories than sitting down.

Creating a Pleasant Environment

Creating a pleasant working environment doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming and there are a wide range of minor changes you can make that will benefit your team.

Natural Light

Natural light boosts vitamin D, which in turn improves sleep and helps ward off any seasonal blues. Increasing natural light in the place you spend most of your life can have huge health benefits, so get the blinds open and let the sun shine on your workers.

Provide Premium Refreshments

A recent survey conducted by global recruitment specialists Reed found that 40% of workers regarded great quality free coffee and tea as the perk they most value at work. 

Whilst it’s not convenient for all offices to have their own in-house coffee shop, a jar of instant really isn’t enough anymore. With a bean to cup coffee machine, you can offer barista-quality coffee that’s great value, delicious, quick and convenient. 

As a business, there are many advantages to having a bean to cup coffee machine. Not only does great coffee improve productivity, creativity and overall mood, the antioxidants in coffee also reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Bring the Outside In

Indoor plants are great for improving the overall aesthetic of a workspace, but they also offer health benefits in terms of improved air quality, reducing stress and improving productivity. They’re also a natural soundproofing tool, reducing noise pollution if you’re office is particularly noisy.

Become Dog Friendly

Workplaces are becoming increasingly open to the concept of an office dog. The company of animals is scientifically proven to offer comfort, reduce anxiety and lower stress levels. Having a dog around also encourages healthy behaviours such as going for walks and taking regular breaks. 

It’s also great for the dog owner who no longer needs to worry about leaving their pooch at home all day, and it’s great for the dog to experience higher levels of social interaction. 

However, not all people are dog lovers and some of your team may even have allergies, so it’s vital you consult your team before allowing anyone to bring their pets to work. Not every dog has the right temperament for an office either – relaxed animals are ideal but if you’ve got a border collie that just wants to run around in circles all day, it’s not going to work for anyone.

Add Extra Personality

Your company culture and brand values should permeate through your working environment. If your company is bright, vibrant and fun then your office design needs to reflect this with bright colours and funky furnishings.

Likewise, if innovation and creativity are important to your business then your office should be designed to encourage this. Having your team sat in silence at their desks does not encourage innovation so open up the space to create comfortable areas where employees can bounce ideas off each other.

Liquidline is proud to supply premium coffee and water solutions to businesses throughout Ireland. Discover more about our professional coffee offering or get in touch with our friendly team to find out how a new water dispenser or coffee machine could help you attract your team back to the workplace.