Let’s Chat… How Often Should Employees be In-Office?

Welcome back to another week, everyone! We hope you had a great weekend.

Today, we’d like to discuss a topic that is forever on the mind of corporate employees: “How often should I be in office?” The concept of ‘flexibility’ in the corporate space has undoubtedly taken on a mind of its own since the COVID-era of employment. We are now faced with a variety of approaches to in-office expectations and employee flexibility, so finding what works for you may look completely different than the next person! However, what is the current sentiment around in-office work? Where do employees WANT to be on a daily basis? Find out through some interesting Chicago Tribune insights below!

Thoughts from the Chicago Tribune…

“In the uneasy tug of war between bosses and workers about how much time should be spent in the office, new evidence reveals that many employees think they should come in more often than they do.

Office workers recently surveyed by an international architecture firm reported that they typically come into the office about half the time, but said they ideally needed to be there two-thirds of a typical workweek for their best productivity. The workers’ attitudes mark a change from the early months after the pandemic when most said they got more work done at home.

“That has been a surprising evolution,” said Elizabeth Brink, a workplace expert at architecture firm Gensler. “People find they are more productive at the office.” While some find it easier to focus working at home, others find themselves more easily diverted there. Pets beckon. Children demand attention. Roommates are too loud. “Then there’s all the laundry,” Brink said….

Younger workers also commonly want the office to be more than just rows of desks, Brink said, preferring to have options that may include spaces with library-like quiet for individual work and spots that may feel more like a hotel lobby where people can gather to collaborate and bounce ideas around. Many younger workers also want spaces their older peers wouldn’t have thought to ask for in years past, such as cafes that feel like public coffee bars, fitness centers, and meditation or napping areas….

Older generations “wouldn’t have thought to ask for” workspaces such as meditation areas that may seem indulgent by previous standards,…. “These next generations are not quiet generations,” she said, but their desired work environments may make offices more desirable to their elders too. With the goal of getting more people back in the office more often, making it a more appealing place to spend time is a key attraction in the carrot-and-stick approach some employers are taking with their workers. Ideally, the upgrades also make people more productive….

People roll into the office an average of 2.8 days a week, CBRE found, but bosses desire to have them show up an average of 3.4 days of a week. Efforts to boost attendance since the pandemic eased haven’t always succeeded, even with the old five-days-in-the-office workweek completely off the table at most companies. “So now the question that companies are asking is, ‘After three or four years into this, what the heck can I do?’ ” to persuade people to show up in person more often.

In recent years, many bosses thought the solution was to clearly spell out their expectations for office attendance, but it wasn’t enough to substantially change behavior. “There was a brief uptick in visitations in some companies that has kind of fallen back out because what was missing from just communicating the expectation is a key piece of the equation — communicating the why.”

Even the best offices will not be utilized anymore than is convenient for people’s schedules if they don’t see why it will be of benefit to them. Those benefits must then be delivered, but many companies are falling short on that front…. Offices that support teamwork, collaboration, and other performance objectives are an added boost, she said. “You’re going to have that perfect scenario where your culture, your workplace, and your employee experience are all in sync.”

Our Thoughts On the Above…

There are undoubtedly very interesting insights documented above, thanks to the Chicago Tribune! Not only does generation impact the desire to work in-office, but so does the physical office itself! We encourage our employers to continuously evaluate whether or not their office provides a positive atmosphere, is modern and well-kept, and is a place that creates motivation and stimulates productivity. While some office investments are large, treating employees to lunch, providing coffee, and layering ‘incentives’ into the experience of working in person will prove valuable to your long-term employee retention.

Above all, we encourage you to avoid force when and wherever possible; now that employees feel empowered to change roles often and as a result of lacking job fulfillment, it’s crucial to your success that you stay on top of company morale, preferences, and expectations. Have you taken a recent ‘pulse check’, deployed an employee satisfaction survey, or otherwise shown interest in your employee’s well-being? If the answer to any of the above is no, then Q1 of 2024 is the perfect time for you to implement a company revamp that puts employee needs at the top of your business objective and goals list.

And, if you’re interested in hearing more about how to prioritize your employee’s needs, tune in Friday to learn all about the ways in which employers can ‘treat’ and support their employees across any industry and for any role.

Searching for a new position? Check out our open jobs list!