It’s been a funny few years, hasn’t it? Employees in many industries have been forced to retreat to their homes set up offices on kitchen tables. Resulting in the office, for a lot of us, becoming more of a novelty than a place to spend the majority of your life. However, what was meant to be a temporary solution to keep employees safe has become the preferred working option for many. Working from the comfort of your own home, without the long commute and office distractions, has proven successful, with many employees finding they’re more productive and have more of a work-life balance when working from their kitchen table. In fact, in 2021, almost 50% of people claimed they would take a 5% pay cut to be able to work remotely at least part-time, so it’s clear that it’s had a positive impact on the lives of many.
With this in mind, the office’s role has changed dramatically in just two years. What was once considered the only real place to work has become more of a space for collaboration. In addition, with many employers adopting a hybrid working model (which means employees only go in a few days a week or have the freedom of choice), office days are more about sharing ideas, mixing with colleagues and cooperating.
The office used to be the heart of company culture and employer brand, with the likes of Google using cool décor and quirks to entice candidates. The office space became the visual representation of the employer brand for both the employees that worked there day in, day out and candidates coming for interviews. Without it, some argue that some of the culture and employer brand is lost. People make a business what it is, and without the whole team going into the office together, some argue that the company’s heart is taken away.
Right now, retention is almost as vital to business continuity, and many employers feel like the way to retain their teams is to bring them back together and get back to office life, at least some of the time. But, with the pandemic still ongoing, 42% of workers feel stressed about their employer’s in-office requirements.
Clearly, employers need to take the time to understand the concerns and worries of employees first and foremost. But it’s also apparent that for many businesses, constant remote working will eventually lead to issues within the team, isolated employees and a loss of what makes your business unique; it’s so much harder to keep culture alive when everyone is working separately.
Therefore, we’re asking how you can get employees to fall back in love with the workplace and entice them to come together more frequently while still prioritising their needs.
Talk to employees
Before you try to win over employees and convince them to go back to the office, you need to talk to them. Many of us are working from home because we have genuine concerns about health and safety, or it could be more personal reasons, like saving money on childcare or balancing work with caring for a loved one. Choosing to work from home is not because employees are lazy or antisocial. Forcing employees into an office space when they don’t feel comfortable will do nothing for your employer brand. So, employers must get to the bottom of their concerns to address them. This could mean adding a more personalised and flexible approach to working to ensure that employees feel comfortable, like leaving the office earlier to miss rush hour public transport. All changes start with a conversation, and showing that you care about your employees’ personal worries will improve your employer brand no end. They’ll think more highly of you as an employer if you consider them as individuals and consider their concerns.
Remember putting in all of those safety precautions at the beginning of the pandemic? From disinfectant and hand sanitiser everywhere to working out social distancing measures? Well, if you’re expecting employees to come back to the office regularly, it’s time to prioritise them again. Taking the necessary precautions to keep your employees safe will help settle any uncertainties they have about returning to the office and improve your employer brand, once again showing you care for their safety. Revisit your office spaces and see what can be done to make them as safe and clean as possible before you ask employees to return, but also make sure you voice this to your employees. What good is making an office safe if you don’t reassure teams that you’ve done so?
Redefine What Your Office Means
Expecting people to come into the office five days a week when they can efficiently work from home is counterproductive and old fashioned. Similarly, expecting employees to come into the office to simply sit at their desks and do the tasks they do every day successfully from home will not improve your employer brand. If anything, employees will be frustrated that they have to battle the commute to do the same tasks they do every day.
To make people fall in love with the office again, you need to redefine its purpose. Use it for team collaboration, training and meetings, as we all know that Zoom meetings are becoming a little tiresome. Make your office days genuinely worthwhile, so employees feel like they’re getting something from being there, and this should ensure that your culture is kept alive too. Why would people want to come to an office where everyone sits silently at their desks? Encourage communication, conversation and those elements of work that are so vital to company culture and innovation but are much harder to achieve when the teams are working remotely. This will enhance your employer brand, and perhaps, your employees may just enjoy coming into the office that little bit more with a renewed sense of purpose.
For other people, however, if they’re balancing childcare, the office may be needed as a retreat and escape so that they can concentrate and apply themselves to work without the distractions of daily life. Therefore, you must understand this too. It will add pressure to these employees when so much collaboration and chatter are going on. By talking to employees about why they use the office, you may decide to prioritise some quiet spaces and provide focus areas for those who benefit from the focus the office offers.
Promote your Employer Brand Internally
After two years of working remotely, you may need to re-motivate teams and remind them just why they joined you in the first place. Your EVP and employer brand is a great place to start. First, look at your EVP and discover any elements that have changed. Inevitably, your workplace isn’t the same as it was pre-pandemic, and your EVP needs to reflect this change in attitudes, processes, and priorities to remain relevant and retain talent. Through conversations, research, and simply analysing what has changed, you should develop an EVP fit for the workplace in 2022.
Once this is done, you can refine your employer brand messaging to motivate your existing teams. Employer Branding isn’t just essential to attract talent and retain it. Every employee joined your business for a reason, perhaps they were excited about your mission, or they loved that you provided opportunities for them to learn and progress. Now is the time to remind them of this. Over the last two years of working remotely, employees have likely lost their sense of purpose at work. To ensure they don’t leave you for one of the thousands of vacant roles around at the moment, it’s time to excite them once more and prove that you’re still the employer they wanted to join years ago, just refreshed and ready for life in 2022.
In communicating your employer brand messaging internally across all business areas, you should reignite your team’s sense of purpose and help them feel attached to your brand once again. Even when they work from the kitchen table, they’ll better understand what they’re doing and why.
Turn to Social Media
Having the team reunited and all together should be a cause for celebration, even if it eventually becomes a regular occurrence. Utilise the power of social media to promote the newly-revised office culture to show candidates and those employees who are still remote that your company culture is alive and well. You can also use the internet and the power of social media to unite remote teams by asking them to get involved in sending photos or virtually engaging with your content. Social media is just what it says on the tin; it’s social. Therefore, it should be used as a tool to connect teams and show the more social aspects of your business. In a hybrid working model, someone will always be working from home. Your social media channels can be a way to involve them in the fun whilst simultaneously raising your employer brand awareness. So it’s a win-win!
Social media can help build excitement, share passions, and update people about what’s going on. So, it’s the perfect tool if you want to entice people back into the office and include hybrid or remote employees in your activities. Showcase your newfound love of collaboration your escapism for the people who need it, but most importantly, don’t exclude those who don’t feel comfortable working in shared spaces.
Talent Works specialises in building EVPs and Employer Brands to ensure candidates and current employees fall in love with your workplace. Through in-depth research and creative messaging, we can improve both talent attraction and retention strategies.
Contact us to find out more.