With pandemic restrictions being removed, office spaces fill up again. However, the process is not taking place according to the expectations of some of the employers. Not all teams want to work in the office. A lot of people expect the possibility to carry on fulfilling their duties following the remote or hybrid model. How to encourage staff members to come back to the office? Among others by offering them comfortably arranged space.
Currently, the organizations have to face the issue of encouraging staff members to come back to the office and to manage this process smoothly. It has turned out that switching from remote or hybrid model to work in the office causes employees’ resistance. Meanwhile, there exist the areas and tasks in connection with which direct contact with both the team and the clients brings better results and translates into greater benefits for the company. Therefore, coming back to the office is postulated gradually, but firmly.
There are numerous advantages of working from home and we got used to them during pandemic years. Saving time and money on commuting, flexibility in connecting professional tasks and family duties, and in some cases – the opportunity to work from anywhere in the country or the world. The option of home office became employment advantage. Employees deprived of the opportunity to work remotely often consider the change, so the risk of them leaving the company emerges. Potential new staff members, in turn, take into consideration whether the company offers such model even before submitting their application.
On the other hand, the very same experience made us realize that there are drawbacks of working outside the office as well. An important disadvantage is the difficulty to separate private and professional life, performing tasks can stretch throughout the day and long hours spent in front of the screen without the possibility of direct interaction are tiresome, or even unhealthy. What is more, the lack of contacts between staff members affects their integration, limits communication, deprives them of the opportunity to establish natural bonds and weakens the company’s organizational culture.
The applied practices and models of company operations adopted during the pandemic definitely need to be revised and adjusted to current situation and to staff requirements. In order to encourage the employees to come back to the office it is necessary to take into account their needs and provide them with the benefits impossible to be achieved at home. Comfort, security and well-being have become more important than ever before – for the employee, but also the employer who wants to retain their staff members.
The new model as well as working environment attractive from the employee’s point of view promote work-life balance even more. In practice, it refers to flexible approach towards both the time spent on performing the tasks in the office as well as office space arrangement. If it is possible to keep the hybrid or rotation option, it shouldn’t be completely abandoned as the employee market forces the entrepreneurs to remain flexible in this field.
Apart from partially remote work model, the organizations try to attract potential employees with a wide range of benefits, extensive cafeteria systems enabling the staff to select the products and services that match their needs. Non-financial benefits include much more than a traditional healthcare package or gym subscription, but they also offer psychological support, entertainment or the options for families.
Nevertheless, physical environment plays the crucial role in the process of coming back to the office – it should be the space in which the employee feels good, works efficiently, the space that promotes the completion of everyday tasks and flawless communication, but also establishing the relationships with colleagues. Staff integration was the area that suffered the most during the pandemic and it constitutes an important need to be satisfied by the employers. What is more, a modern office is a healthy space that meets high standards, often confirmed by appropriate certificates. Office redesign becomes an element of the strategy of bringing the employees back after the period of remote work.
Refreshing office space should be conducted before the staff actually appears there. However, any time is good to introduce some changes and when efficient solutions emerge, it is worth benefiting from them. Refreshed arrangement itself will encourage to come back to the office. Good design, attractive environment will make staff members feel comfortable and work in much more pleasant atmosphere.
Cosy homelike spaces with overlapping functionalities are desired in the post-pandemic era. Sofas and armchairs create zones intended both for work as well as relaxation during the break. In rest and refreshment facilities staff members can have their lunch and socialize, but also exchange the ideas connected with current projects. Formal ergonomic shape of the office is being abandoned: austere interiors are enriched with colours, designer accessories and live plants. The latter has a significant influence on mental and physical well-being.
Rearrangement of office space aimed at bringing the employees back to the office is supposed not only to evoke its positive reception, but also to improve human health and well-being. For this reason, modern designs include maximum access of sunlight to office spaces achieved thanks to large-scale glazing and natural finishing materials. High quality of the air and optimum humidity constitute another factor having a tangible effect on the health and wellness of employees. Lots of live plants ensure better air quality and humidity control as well as satisfy a very important human need – the contact with nature. The office focused on those who spend there their time makes them work better, more efficiently and creatively. It is the place where one simply wants to work, it promotes both focus, often difficult to be achieved at home, as well as team work.
Live plants are a very friendly tool in the hands of investors who intend to adjust the space in order to make it easier for employees to come back to the office. Firstly, plants can be used within all stages – building design, finishing works or rearrangement. Secondly, vertical systems make it possible to introduce a lot of plants into the space, even when it is limited, as we do not lose floor area, but use vertical surfaces. The structure of mobile furniture with live plants is light, but at the same time reliable, so it is a perfect solution for flexible designs, in which the equipment can be moved when necessary. The same piece of furniture can serve as open space partition, it may also be used in the study as well as for arranging the relaxation zone, hall or reception.
As far as coming back to the office is concerned, it is worth emphasizing that plants constitute not only the solution for achieving attractive architectural designs, but also make it possible to meet certification standards. They, in turn, send a clear message to office users that the space is beneficial to their health and the employer pays attention to the well-being of their staff members. BREEAM and LEED has already become popular, and the interest in WELL certificate is growing. It concentrates on shaping employee-friendly space. Basic requirements necessary for achieving well-being goals and obtaining the certificate are among others: appropriate ventilation, air purification, extensive access of natural light, contact with nature as well as appropriate acoustic solutions. Even though our memories of hard pandemic times are gradually fading away, these experiences have changed our attitude to caring for our health forever. Ensuring the sense of security in this field constitutes new office standard and the solution for attracting employees and convincing them to working in the office.