Before the pandemic forced employees to trade in their blazers and commute times for makeshift home offices and neverending Zoom meetings, sitting in an office from 9-to-5 was the norm for many. But now that the world is shifting towards the way things were pre-2020, remote workers are reticent to return to the traditional in-office lifestyle that they once knew. In fact, nine in 10 remote-capable employees prefer some degree of remote-work flexibility going forward, according to Gallup’s study of more than 140,000 U.S. employees. However, remaining in a fully remote work environment is not what people want, as two-thirds (59%) of those that want some degree of remote-work flexibility specifically prefer a hybrid work arrangement.
Employers who embrace the shift to hybrid work will be the retention winners. Creating a flexible work environment that empowers employees to work when, where and how they want, while also creating a reasons for them to want to come into the office to connect in-person with teammates and clients is key. Here are four ideas on how to do just that:
New or reconfigured office spaces: With the shift to hybrid work, there’s no longer a need for desks for every team member, as there will rarely be a time where every employee is in at the same time. Instead, either refresh outdated floor plans with a mix of communal areas for collaboration and social gatherings along with private spaces to allow employees to focus, making the space more of purposeful place for in-person office time. If planning to expand your footprint, do so with amenities in mind like client Sovos is doing with its new Atlanta office, which will include an on-site fitness center, restaurants and a rooftop terrace offering views of the city.
Transformational tech for hybrid collaboration: The move to remote work prompted an irreversible shift towards video conferencing. With a hybrid workforce, video meetings will surely continue, but it’s likely that there will be a mix between individuals taking calls solely in front of their laptops, while others dial in together at the office to collaborate. Invest in tech that keeps remote and in-person participants connected, like Owl Labs’ Owl 3 360-degree camera, microphone and speaker, which ensures that everyone is seen and heard regardless of where they are sitting. Or for a more economical option, Google Meet is constantly updating their virtual meeting platform with easy-to-use tools, such as the whiteboard feature for cross-team brainstorms.
In-person onboarding: One of the benefits of the shift to remote work is recruiting talent beyond their immediate geographical area. However, now that more people are returning to work, it’s essential that employers continue to engage remote workers and offer them opportunities to meet in person with their team members. At Alloy, we’ve been able to do so by encouraging out-of-state employees to travel to our Atlanta and New Orleans offices for quarterly all-hands meetings, team celebrations like Fun at Work Day and new hire onboarding sessions. Not only does this engage remote employees, but it also gives local hybrid employees a reason to come into the office for in-person facetime with those that are usually only seen via video calls.
Unforgettable off-site team retreats: For the Alloy team, our annual team retreats offer an indispensable opportunity for employees to get to know each on a personal level while also coming together for strategy sessions. According to NerdWallet, more companies are beginning to realize the benefits of off-site retreats now that employees are more dispersed as remote and hybrid work preferences continue. With any off-site retreat, it’s important to find a balance between time to work, activities and free time, which is when some of the most beneficial bonds between employees occurs.
Investing in all these new ways of working may have leadership questioning whether or not the office environment ever return to what it once was before, with 40-hour work weeks at corporate headquarters? Don’t count on it – and certainly don’t enforce a full-on return to the office if you want to keep your team intact. The annual State of Remote Work report found that if the ability to work from home was taken away, two-thirds (66%) of workers would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility, and 39% would simply quit.
At Alloy, we’ve always offered our employees the opportunity to be flexibly responsible when working, and we’re committed to supporting our hybrid workforce for years to come. Interested in joining our Uncommon Crew?