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What is the value of working in an office?

The physical workplace brings people together, helping to boost productivity, foster connection, and attract and retain top talent in your organization.

Amy Kirkham
By Amy Kirkham Content Marketing Manager

The last year has been full of conflicting opinions around returning to the office. Many businesses are navigating a return to office that aligns with both employees’ wants and business needs. The underlying question beneath it all: what is the value of working in an office that can’t be achieved from home? 

The last year has shown that the workplace is a lot more than just where people work. The workplace is a hub for connection, collaboration, and innovation. It’s a place where employees feel purpose and can connect to their work. It is a breeding ground for new friendships and meaningful professional relationships. As businesses continue to navigate what the best return-to-office strategy is for the upcoming year, we put together a list of six key benefits of working in an office. 

1. Working in an office drives a sense of purpose and belonging

The pandemic caused two-thirds of employees to reflect on their purpose in life. Of those folks, millennials were the biggest group who were reevaluating their purpose at work.

Creating a workplace that supports a sense of purpose and achievement is crucial. Being around coworkers who share a common goal reinforces individual purpose within your organization. Folks are able to observe the actions of others and feel like they’re contributing to something. They are able to celebrate wins together. 

Plus, working in an office helps drive a sense of belonging. Belonging refers to someone’s feeling of acceptance within a group or organization. It’s something that can be hard to build, especially over Zoom and Slack when folks are taking meetings on mute and with cameras off. That’s why having an office is so important because it allows employees to build meaningful connections face-to-face. 

2. Working in an office fosters friendship and real connection

According to a recent study, 37% of employees stated connection with coworkers was the top reason why they chose to work from the office. These friendships and connections can play a major part in how satisfied employees feel while working on site.

It’s easier for employees to make friends when they  spend time together in the office versus when they only communicate digitally. After work happy hours and coffee walks are often what bond employees. Studies actually show that full-time remote workers have 33% fewer friends at work than office workers.

3. Working in an office improves productivity

There’s no denying that people can be productive from anywhere. On average, 13% of employees felt that they were more productive when they worked from home–but that’s not true for everyone. The physical workplace can improve productivity by enabling information sharing and accessibility. In fact, 42% of employees say that the ability to access information quickly and easily boosts their productivity levels. Plus, many employees find productivity to be the driving purpose of the workplace. In our recent At Work report, 61% of employees said productivity was the more important outcome to being in an office compared to building relationships.

4. Working in an office fosters collaboration

Being in an office is much more conducive to collaboration than working from home. Studies show that people who work in an office spend 52% more time collaborating than they would if they worked in full-time remote positions. Remote employees spend the majority of their time working in a silo. Hybrid and full-time onsite employees, however, better split up their week with heads-down work, in-person collaboration, virtual collaboration, and socializing. That’s because they’re able to more fully use the office equipment, whiteboards, in-person brainstorming sessions to work together.

5. Working in an office improves the onboarding experience 

Some new hires have experienced successful onboarding remotely. But was that only out of pandemic necessity? In-person onboarding has significant benefits for new employees—and not just to help them overcome first day jitters.

Being together in an office helps create the opportunity for new hires to ask questions, learn through osmosis, and feel more confident in their roles. Plus, new employees who are onboarding in an office will take less time to absorb necessary information to make an impact in their role. They’ll be able to shadow other teammates, study existing processes, and understand the team’s objectives much more effectively.

6. Working in an office drives career growth for employees

Being in the physical workplace is important for employees to grow in their careers. According to our At Work report, 96% of executives notice the work done in the office far more than the work done at home. So working in an office can benefit employees by helping them get in front of senior leaders who can influence their career growth.

Plus, working in an office can help you learn new skills to grow your career. For example, you can watch how senior leaders handle fires, lead presentations, or solve problems. You can ask your coworkers questions about areas unfamiliar to you. Being an office inherently offers more exposure to what others are working on and can help you improve your skill set.

It’s true, the value of the workplace has changed. It’s now a space for everything you might not get at home or virtually: collaboration, creativity, productivity, culture, and celebration. And when you create a space that supports all of the above, you’ll actually get employees excited to choose the office over working from home.

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Amy Kirkham
Author Bio Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content guru at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy drinking coffee, exploring new places, or planning her next trip.