Welcome to the latest issue of WorkplaceBytes, a curated collection of news and insights for workplace and property professionals.
Hybrid’s The Way Most Are Returning to Work
Gallup just published the latest results of their quarterly poll of US-based remote-capable workers, showing fast growth among people working hybrid.
They also asked where people want to work; six in ten say a mix of at-home and in-office is ideal.
In Australia, the “back-to-office” started happening earlier than in the US. While the data show variations based on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, office utilization is currently running about 25% of capacity.
In Britain, a similar pattern has emerged, according to a Consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates survey reported by the BBC.
Companies Trying to Sweeten the In-Office Pot Should Consult Employees
As we noted in our July issue of WorkplaceBytes, companies are employing various tactics to make people happier with the back-to-office experience, from food and beverage programs to leadership access and commuter benefits.
Data from our platform shows that perks can increase employee participation and satisfaction. Here’s a comparison of aggregated data from across our 12,000+ installations on the effectiveness of free lunch offers:
Across our platform, we also see when workstations are well-equipped for in-office usage, their utilization grows considerably. For example, our data show that workstations with available monitors/second screens see much higher use than those without.
Perks and equipment can make a difference. But a growing consensus is emerging that the most valuable thing we can do is communicate why the return to office is beneficial and how it will create better professional and personal opportunities.
This thought-provoking perspective from McKinsey reminds us…
…executives should focus on making their workplaces matter and measuring their success. They should design and activate offices that foster human connection, and create tailored, authentic experiences with a hospitality mindset. A more valuable, fulfilling work day can clarify the benefits of collocating with colleagues, in turn helping prevent decision fatigue as employees ask, “Do I go into the office tomorrow or not?”
As more and more companies announce plans for a return to the office, it’s clear that simply declaring a policy without consulting with employees often leads to anger and resistance from some staff members.
In February, this HBR article reminded us, “Any type of change engenders resistance in some, enthusiasm in others, and all the variations in between.” They say reactions typically fall into one of five categories, and a smooth transition to the office starts with recognizing where each employee is on the spectrum.
A popular press Op-Ed from the New York Times notes that many workers don’t immediately understand the benefits of a return to the office. “The pandemic showed a realistic alternative to the daily commute to the office, and now many workers aren’t willing to go back to the status quo.” Author Edith Cooper reminds us that leadership “would do well to remember that when the pandemic forced many people to work from home, their employees largely remained committed and productive.” The return to office needs to feel like an improvement, not a fix to a problem.
That’s a huge distinction and a big reason why it’s important to consult employees before announcing a new policy and then reflecting their opinions and preferences in your new rules.
Changing Role of An Office
At XY Sense, we are huge believers in the value of understanding how your office works now. From our experience, we know how data can foster insights that drive more productive work and more satisfied, high-performance employees.
Todd Siegel at CBRE wrote a great piece on creating a workplace that extends and enhances your culture. His perspective underscores the need for spaces and practices that fit a new way of working. “…[m]ajor employers are optimistic about the opportunity to reinvigorate their company culture, create an atmosphere of collaboration and take advantage of all of the benefits that the physical environment has to offer.”
Another CBRE piece published in August underscored four ways to build a better work experience. Among them was the power of data to inform how we facilitate improved team effectiveness and workplace satisfaction.“
XY Sense News
A big part of communicating the benefits of the return is recognizing that we need to define better environments and ways of working. Data is a powerful tool to help identify work environment issues and opportunities to address them. One critical knowledge gap XY Sense is addressing is helping companies get reliable entry and exit counts for their spaces to optimize their office portfolios. Our new Entry Sensors provide a cost-effective way to capture that data with unsurpassed accuracy. Entry Sensors are far more accurate than card swipes and manual observation studies and provide the foundational data companies need to understand on-premise employee counts.
XY Sense has just published a new case study with our global accounting software client Xero that shows how the company replaced antiquated occupancy tracking systems and is now leveraging data from the XY Sense sensors and platform to develop better workplace environments, drive utilization, and lower costs.
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