Following July 19th’s ‘Freedom Day’, it is evident that business leaders are eager and optimistic about a speedy return to the office.
Remote working, however, has become somewhat of the norm over the past 18 months, with 90 percent of UK employees stating they would like to work remotely at least part-time. Whilst many big corporations seem to have their qualms about working out-of-office, it is evident that the demand has never been greater.
The business world has an opportunity for reshaping like never before, and now is the time for experimentation in the way the UK works. So, rather than focusing on the number of desks in an office, businesses should, instead, use this unprecedented time to explore their company cultures, and focus on creating an environment that encourages creativity and productivity as the key factors.
It is no surprise that most employees prefer the comfort of their kitchen tables to an office desk. How can business leaders, then, encourage a hybrid (or office-based) workplace which boosts morale and productivity, when employees have become so accustomed to the comfort of their own homes? Here are my top tips:
- Here's our take on the best email providers out there
Flexibility equals happier employees
In the modern world, as long as there is a flat surface and good WiFi connection, employees can work from just about anywhere.
A recent study by tech company Lenovo, in fact, proves that location does not determine how well an employee works; it found that 63 percent of workers feel more productive when remote working than they did in the office.
By offering them this flexibility, and trusting in them to provide their best work, employees are able to work wherever they feel most comfortable, ultimately becoming even more efficient than if they were to take a long commute to sit at a desk in an office.
The pandemic has proven the success of home-working, and it is only improving over time; more employers are reporting current increased productivity benefits from remote working compared to last summer, as employees are likely adapting to the new way of working. To introduce a complete overhaul of what they have become used to in a bid to return to the office seems to undermine everything a business should stand for.
In fact, studies show that two-thirds of employers plan to expand the use of flexible working to some degree. This is a welcomed change by employees across the UK, with the flexibility offering less time commuting, and more time for individuals to do what they enjoy most.
There is no doubt that some range of flexibility in the workplace can improve employee satisfaction, all-round wellbeing, physical and mental health, and ultimately result in a more productive and engaged workforce.
- Here are the best online collaboration tools available today
Create a welcoming environment
Sitting at a desk under bright lights in a monotonous office is the number one way to ramp up stress levels, having negative effects on both physical and mental health. It is no surprise that studies have found lower stress levels amongst remote workers, with employees who work from home at least once a month being 24 percent more likely to feel happy and productive at work.
The modern, post-pandemic office needs to be an environment worth leaving home for. Employees have become very accustomed to working wherever they like - whether that’s in coffee shops, libraries or the comfort of their own homes. With part of this freedom being taken away from them, a vibrant, innovative and inviting workspace which offers options for both comfortable working and traditional office space should become the norm.
Studies have shown that a well-designed office space can increase productivity levels by up to 20 percent. So, not only can business leaders be encouraging employees back to the office with a strategic redesign, but they can also improve the capacity of their team, increasing morale, motivation and collaboration on their return to the office space.
This is why, at Kitt, we take the time to understand how each of our clients and their team works to provide them with a unique space that hits all of their individual needs, directly accommodating their day-to-day workflow.
The right tools can bring a team together
The one downfall of out-of-office working is the lack of face-to-face interactions with employees and co-workers. Employees who work remotely may feel distanced, and missing out on that ‘water cooler banter’ that can build bonds between team members.
A recent report from Slack revealed that communication is certainly a large obstacle with this new style of working, with a fifth of employees commenting on the struggles they have faced with some in the office and some not. A further 56 percent stated that they would consider leaving their position if the team’s communication did not improve.
The pandemic, though, has unsurprisingly brought about a great range of technological advancements, and it is key that these are implemented day-to-day, whether at home or in the office, to ensure quality communication and productivity can continue in the workplace.
Integrating solid messaging systems and video conferencing platforms is a great start to developing a flexible workplace that thrives. Regular relaxed in-person meetings can also be beneficial to bring back that workplace ‘banter’ and establish a strong culture that employees have been missing over the pandemic.
Ensuring employees are constantly collaborating, even when out-of-office, can produce a huge difference in their engagement and productivity. In addition, increased positive interactions with employees and co-workers can allow them to feel more satisfied, and less anxious, about returning to work, encouraging them back into the workplace.
The UK is experiencing an unprecedented period allowing for experimentation for businesses to shake up the working world. Rather than placing a large focus on getting back into the office, they should instead work to create new cultures and environments that work solely for them, encouraging employee productivity and creativity, rather than getting a full house.
- These are the best free software for small businesses available now
Lucy Minton, Co-founder and COO, Kitt