Return-to-office plans have been pretty stop-and-go for many companies.
That being said, as the infection rate of COVID-19 continues to steadily decline, it seems that the return to office will likely resume at some point next year.
And if you were worried that the office would become obsolete, fear no more because most businesses aren't giving up the corporate office — they're just changing how it's used. In fact, according to Gensler, the top-performing U.S. companies expect to increase their real estate post-COVID.
By equipping your workplace with the right return-to-office technology and doing the legwork ahead of time, you can help employees return to work with confidence without adding any additional complexities to the mix.
Even as some of the world's biggest tech companies are leaning into hybrid work policies, the majority of employees are still eager for the return to office according to a Gensler's U.S. Work from Home Survey.
However, they have some valid concerns about how they’ll stay safe and healthy in their new environment.
Only one in ten office workers in the United States regularly worked from home before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the survey.
Of the 2,300 people who responded, only 12% said that they were planning to continue working from home full time. Seventy percent said they want to return to the office and plan to spend 3-4 days working on-site. Another 18% said they would like to come into the office once or twice a week.
The top reason most employees want to return to the office? They miss their coworkers!
That supports the idea that virtual meetings cannot fully substitute the value of engaging with people in person. It seems that people felt the absence of the kinds of face-to-face collaboration they were used to in the office.
Fifty-four percent said they missed in-person meetings, socializing with their colleagues, and having impromptu face-to-face interactions most. They also ranked being part of a community, access to technology, and a greater ability to focus on work as the most important reasons for a return to office.
Gensler’s research gives a clear picture of what employees expect in a post-pandemic workplace. Based on their research and the findings of our own State of Workplace Tech survey, here are some suggested solutions for keeping people engaged and productive when they return to the office.
As an IT leader, a big part of your role involves finding innovative solutions to the biggest problems your organization faces.
At top-performing companies, 56% of employees say they preferred working in an office environment when it comes to brainstorming and ideation, according to Gensler's U.S. Workplace Summer Survey 2021
Given that everyone's social skills may have gotten a little rusty over the course of the pandemic, our return-to-office bingo card is a great way to help break the ice and gently ease back into in-person conversations.
Fifty-five percent of employees who responded to the Gensler survey said they want stricter policies that keep sick employees at home. Aside from updating HR policies, your workplace should consider what technology you have in place to limit capacity and provide important check-in information to employees and visitors.
A visitor management system that lets you pre-register your guests can help you avoid having too many people in the office at one time. You can require employees to register themselves and their visitors in the system before a certain time each day so you can stay within established capacity limits. If your check-in process requires employees to fill out a health survey or will include wellness screenings, you can notify everyone ahead of time so there aren't any uncomfortable surprises.
Employees are looking forward to having more control over where and how they work. They also expect to work farther away from their colleagues — something that may be difficult to achieve if your office has an open floor plan. In the Gensler survey, over half of employees said they expected an increased distance between workstations.
At the same time, many are wary of shared desks — 19% said they wanted their employer to eliminate them altogether. While flexible seating arrangements like hot desking can help employees with spatial distancing, it’s clear that the traditional model of hot desking needs to evolve.
Desk booking software allows employees to explore availability, see location and amenities information, and choose the best seat for their workday. Plus, you'll also be giving them the assurance that when they arrive they’ll have a reserved workspace ready.
In a separate survey by PwC, 35% of employees said they expect their employer to notify them if someone in their workplace tests positive for COVID-19. Your workplace needs to manage contact tracing carefully to avoid violations of privacy or confidentiality.
If someone reports they have tested positive, you can refer back to your visitor management system to see who was potentially in contact with that individual. You can then use a mobile app to notify those employees of the potential exposure and advise them of the next steps, without revealing any identifying information.
And a mobile app that allows employees to check in and book desks or rooms from their own device also reduces the number of shared surfaces they have to touch.
Let's say the beginning of last month was going to be your company's much-anticipated return to office.
Then, like so many others, delays and surges in COVID-19 variants caused some sudden changes to your plans. We've heard different versions of this story a lot, lately. Not only from our own customers and network of industry experts but also in news stories centered on specific companies and global trends.
If you've experienced a similar whiplash, there are some bright skies ahead. But before it's even time to set your reopening date, a little preparation is in order.
So ask yourself: Do I have the return-to-office tools in place to return safely, support hybrid work, and manage flexible seating? If not, you better bump it up on your priority list ASAP. Because let's face it, these days if you're not ahead of the game, you're already falling behind the competition.
So, what now? Time to start looking into return-to-office solutions.
But workplace technology takes months to launch, right? Not necessarily. If you're talking about Teem's return to office solutions, you can be up and running in just moments — not days, weeks, or months.
Our new Return To Work Starter Kit makes it easy and affordable for companies of any size to return to work fast. It’s a complete package that includes:
A quick implementation process is just the start because if an investment in technology is only as good as its adoption rate, we've got good news: The only thing simpler than implementing Teem's workplace software is using it.
Normally, you’d have to find and evaluate each of these solutions separately. But this is an unprecedented time, so we’ve decided to offer you an unprecedented deal for the full bundle.
Best of all, you can implement our cloud-based solutions within an hour and have them ready to go the same day.
Learn more about our new Return To Work Starter Kit today.