The future of the workplace: how to make the office enticing again

When do people go to the office?

Recent data suggests that occupancy is exceeding 40 per cent on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, while Friday occupancy sits at 17 percentage points lower than the mid-week peak.

As people are taking advantage of the hybrid working schedules, the employee services sector needs to adapt its provisions on those quieter days – namely, Monday and Friday. Equally, to keep occupancy high on the more popular days, the office needs to continue being reinvented and reinvigorated. It is no longer just a place people go to for work, it is a destination. The office needs to solve problems and offer more than the home office can.

Now, more corporate businesses are beginning to turn their offices into desirable spaces, as well as offer additional benefits, to encourage people into the office.

How do we attract people to the office?

The first step is recognising what is going to attract employees to the office; what benefits will be enough to bring them in? And how can the employee services teams make these changes? Simple benefits such as a free lunch don’t cut it anymore. We should use this time of adaptation in the workplace to try new methods of employee engagement in the office and see what people enjoy the most.

Remote working had us communicating through our screens, so it’s important to get those “water cooler moments” happening again, ensuring that all workers who come into the office are noticed and spoken to directly. Introducing new ways to get employees up from their desks and interacting with each other socially while at work can help make the office a desirable place to be throughout the week.

For example, at On Verve we created a pride-themed garden in June for Pride Month. Employees at the client office were encouraged to take 10 minutes from their day to join the DayMakers in making rainbow-coloured paper flowers that were then ‘planted’ in the soil. The activity was a success, the garden was full of beautiful colours and employees were able to do a fun, creative activity away from their desks. If even for a few minutes, these activities help to encourage social cohesion at the office, enabling great workplace culture.

Prioritising our efforts on the days when employees are likely to commute in is the way forward. Hosting events and socials on Mondays and Fridays are less likely to see uptake and would be a waste of time and resources. We need to focus on making the days when employees do come in seamless, enjoyable, and as stress-free as possible so the office becomes a space they associate with a great workday. On the quieter days, our teams can focus on admin, training, and other work that isn’t time sensitive while still providing services to those in the office.

Service evolution

Ultimately, we are competing with family dynamics when trying to get employees into the office on Friday; why come in when you could start your weekend at home? For younger generations in big cities, Thursday is the new Friday and has an end-of-week feel for them, at least in terms of being in the office.

As service providers, we need to educate our clients about office occupancy trends and become innovative in how we run our services to reflect them. This starts in our tenders and continues through to quarterly reviews. Sharing ideas that will enhance the end-user experience while potentially saving money for clients, or using the current budget in a different way, will be invaluable.

Time to think outside the box.