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The office return: keeping employees motivated

11th Oct 2021
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Across the UK hundreds of thousands of workers are returning to some form of an office environment. Although we’re unlikely to go back to the five day commute we had grown accustomed to pre-pandemic, a hybrid model, where employees meet face to face multiple times a week, is expected to become the norm.

According to one report, 85% of the UK’s C-Suite and 71% of employees support this model of flexible/hybrid working. Creating meaningful experiences which support employees throughout the day - from the commute to journey home - will therefore be crucial in enabling the new era of work.

The return to work challenge

The pandemic has been a catalyst for so much change, making it easy to forget that most office based workers have now been working from home for over a year and a half. Many of us have had little contact with colleagues outside of virtual chat applications and video conferencing, which also comes with a loss  of the benefits of being part of a close-knit business community. 

While better flexibility in our working day has been enjoyed by many, the isolation of full-time home working has led to many employees reconsidering the benefits of working with their current employer. Many have felt that their organisation has failed to value them as an individual while working offsite, and have begun to consider whether it’s time to change jobs. The issue has become so widespread that recent figures have revealed nearly half (41%) of employees could move jobs post COVID-19 if their situation does not improve.

Employers therefore need to put processes in place to not just attract new employees, but ensure they retain the talent they already have.

Revamping the daily commute

One core area to focus on is the daily commute. While it's unlikely we’ll be heading into the office five days a week, getting to and from work will soon once again become the norm for thousands of individuals across the country. And employers have an opportunity to improve on what came before, demonstrating their commitment to employee wellbeing.

In the current environment, some of the main concerns businesses are faced with relate to avoiding the risk of overcrowding when entering buildings, parking shortages, adhering to social distancing and ensuring priority access to those that need it most. 

As such, many companies are exploring a smarter commuting programme that puts employees first. This ensures individuals are able to get to and from the office in a way that is both safer than before, and cleaner and greener. For example, cycling and electric taxis, and new solutions like boat taxis for City of London workers. These innovations are all part of reimagining what door-to-door means in a post-pandemic world, and offer employees an array of transport options to choose from.

Food for thought

Alongside improving the commute is a focus on building employee experiences within the working environment. One of the core learnings for HR during the pandemic is the value of their employees and the importance of ensuring they remain happy and motivated in all circumstances. 

Rewarding initiatives have always been well received by employees, with food perhaps being the most prominent and well loved of options. From free breakfasts, healthy snacks, coffee, lunches and more, there are a plethora of ways to keep employees engaged via food. In fact, our own research revealed that 63% of workers believe food provided by their employers keeps them happy and satisfied.

But as we begin getting used to a more hybrid working environment, organisations must make sure the rewards they are giving can work for both the employees who choose to work in the office, and those that continue to work at home. All while retaining that personalised touch. This could be in the form of team lunches, office deliveries or voucher distributions to those working remotely. 

Personalised experiences

As we emerge from the pandemic it is crucial that employees are treated individually while still being able to enjoy the benefits of that wider business community feeling. Some organisations pre-pandemic got away with offering sub-par experiences to their workforce, but with many employees now having itchy feet, this isn’t an option anymore if they are keen to retain top talent. 

No matter whether it’s the number of days employees work in the office or the commuting services available, businesses must make sure they have post-pandemic processes in place to tailor the way they engage with each and every employee. To complement this personalisation, they must also look to invest in the right rewarding schemes that show employees they are still valued and an integral component of the wider business, no matter where they are working from.

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