With side hustles and pet cuddles galore, how can companies entice workers with the idea of coming together in person? The way forward is investing in what people have missed during the pandemic and can’t enjoy from the comfort of their home: in-person connections and shared experiences.
Instead of focusing on levels of productivity in certain working locations — which often lead to opinionated, divisive discussions — we need to accept that the most important variable is engagement when working at home or in the office.
Pro-tip💡 Creating connections among colleagues is crucial for long-term engagement and doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flexibility.
Remote culture leads to higher turnover
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, 79% of remote workers have grown distant from their teams and disengaged from their jobs in 2022. Interpersonal connections in the workplace strengthen feelings of significance — they show workers the value they bring to the team.
Despite the merit of having a workplace presence, two-thirds of workers say they’re prepared to look for work elsewhere if forced to return to the office full-time. The flexibility of recent years has made remote work appealing, but if people are reminded of why making the commute is worth it, workplaces can be re-invigorated with ongoing involvement and efficiency.
Without structure in a hybrid work model, companies run the risk of having people commuting sporadically to empty offices: the worst of both worlds. Instead, what we suggest and what we are implementing here at Planned, is an in-person strategy that ensures both flexibility and engagement.
What is an in-person strategy?
An in-person strategy is a multifaceted effort that works to maximize socialization and collaboration, maintain flexibility and creativity, and minimize unnecessary costs and commutes — all in the name of increasing workplace engagement.
Some pointers for implementing in-person strategies:
- Identify which teams would benefit from in-person collaborations, internally and externally. Not everyone needs or wants to be invited to everything, but there is value in encouraging new points of connection.
- Leaders: identify who will take charge of event planning — whether it’s a specific team, a rotation of planners, or both.
- Spaces: dedicate internal spaces to small events and collaborative meetings. Go for smaller, more often.
- Empower event planners to organize out-of-the-ordinary meetings by assigning budgets, guidelines, and sourcing tools. example: inviting a third-party speaker from time to time, or organizing in-office activities
- Communicate: make it clear to your management team that these events are a tool to help bring people together, from clients to staff.
- Generate buzz among your internal teams by sharing photos and testimonials after social events.
84% of workers say they’d be motivated to head to the office by the promise of socializing with their coworkers, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index. This makes in-person events essential to fostering company culture. Focus on what simply cannot be recreated from home.
Pro-tip💡 Get ahead of the game in 2023 by implementing in-person strategies with your team.
Rebrand like L'Oréal, brainstorm like Dropbox
Accepting that hybrid and remote work models are here to stay means shifting ideas of how we connect and collaborate in the workplace — it means getting creative.
With the post-pandemic landscape of scattered teams, disengaged workers, and lingering uncertainties, you can get ahead of the game in 2023 with your own in-person strategy. Having various events won’t solve everything, but working together to implement what employees are looking for is a strong place to start in a fluctuating environment.
Companies like L’Oréal are taking initiative to accept this new work culture by rebranding the office as a space for employees to connect and collaborate. From fitness rooms, medical services, and nail bars in their Paris office, to informal meeting spaces in their Copenhagen office, they are repurposing spaces to meet employees’ wishes.
With an in-person strategy, the cost of team-building events and spaces is substantiated by the increase in engagement that follows. At the L’Oréal Copenhagen office, they saw a 7% rise in employee satisfaction levels.
Similarly, Dropbox re-envisioned its offices after adopting a “Virtual First” policy. Now, the offices are seen as “studios” meant to be used for intentional gatherings such as brainstorming sessions, community-building events, and socializing — in other words, events.
How we're doing it at Planned
We’ve seen the value of prioritizing in-person connection here at Planned, too. With a budget for organizing social events every two weeks, our team has taken turns organizing activities like wine tasting, bowling, and stand-up comedy. These times with coworkers have become something we all cherish. As well, it’s become a sweet hiring perk, with candidates relocating to the wintery city for that sense of connection.
All that to say, having an in-person strategy doesn’t mean enforcing inflexible office policies. Instead, it means working together to create a space everyone looks forward to coming to. Whether it’s a few days a week in office or having onsite and offsite events, the overall objective is redefining what it means to work in the office, and remembering why we work with people.