After two years of largely remote work, the workplace is back front and center. Folks are getting tired of their makeshift home offices and workplaces around the world are slowly but surely starting to get busy again. However, not every company is back to pre-pandemic workplace foot traffic.
Earlier this year, we published At Work: the 2022 workplace trends report to give workplace teams an up-to-date view of the state of the physical workplace. Now, we’re diving back into the data so you can keep up with the latest trends and learn new insights. In an April 2022 survey of 800 workplace leaders around the world, we aimed to learn how companies are getting their folks back on-site. Read on to see what we found out.
77% of companies have adopted a hybrid working model, with an “at-will” hybrid policy being the most popular
Not every company is back to pre-pandemic workplace foot traffic. But not every company is going to be. In our survey, only 15% of workplace leaders stated that they have returned to a 100% in-office requirement for their employees. 3% are still completely remote and 5% have not decided on a return to office policy at all. But the vast majority of companies (77%) have opted to go hybrid.
Hybrid work can work in many different ways, so we wanted to learn what hybrid policy was the most popular:
- Hybrid at-will: Of those who have adopted hybrid work, 56% have a hybrid at-will policy, meaning that employees can choose which day(s) they come into the office. The benefit of an at-will policy is primarily flexibility for employees.
- Hybrid split-week: 11% have a split-week policy where the company assigns specific days of the week for on-site and remote work by team or function. The main benefit of a split-week policy is that the organization is better able to plan ahead and know exactly how many folks will be on-site on any given day. This helps prevent overcrowding on more popular days of the week.
- Hybrid manager-scheduling: 8% opted for a manager-scheduling policy, where managers choose which day(s) their team comes into the office. The primary benefit of a manager-scheduling policy is team collaboration and productivity. When a manager gets to select which day(s) their folks are on-site they can host team meetings, brainstorms, working sessions, and other ways for their teams to be productive face-to-face.
- Hybrid mix: The remaining 25% allow for some mix of all three options, meaning that the company, the managers, and the employees have agency in choosing which days folks work on-site. This mixes the benefits of flexibility, choice, and planning for each party.
88% of companies are using incentives to get their folks back on-site
In a January 2022 survey, we learned that 63% of employees say flexibility would make them feel more empowered. However, having that flexibility and power to choose which days to come in, especially in the popular at-will hybrid model, means that workplace leaders need to make the workplace a place that people want to be.
While some companies have requirements to get their folks on-site, 88% of companies have taken to using incentives to get their employees excited to go back to the office. While some companies are going overboard—think Lizzo concerts, beer and wine tastings, swag, and group fitness classes—others are trying more accessible methods. Here are the five most popular incentives that workplace leaders are using to get employees back to the office:
- Food and beverage programs: 56% of workplace professionals are stacking their offices full of snacks, lunches, beverages, and treats to lure their employees on-site
- Social events: 42% are hosting social events like happy hours and movie nights
- Company events: 41% have chosen to host company events like an all-hands meeting or in-person trainings
- Furniture and amenities: 40% are touting their office amenities like standing desks, quiet working pods, and other things that folks might not have access to at home
- Office environment: 39% have revamped their office environment by playing music, creating social spaces, and having games in the office
Are these incentives actually working? 85% of workplace leaders think so. However, the remaining 15% agree that the most sure-fire way to get employees back in the office is having a requirement for them to be there.
Companies are investing even more in the workplace
Whether office attendance is a choice or a requirement, companies are recognizing that they need to make changes to support employees on-site. So we asked workplace leaders, “Where has your company invested in the workplace?” to learn where workplace dollars are going.
Tools that enable video conferencing, remote collaboration, and space booking are the most popular technologies that companies are investing in. Incentives like on-site events and programs, such as hosting happy hours and providing food and beverages on-site, make the top five list as well.
We asked this same question to workplace leaders in At Work: the 2022 workplace trends report. Interestingly, almost every single area saw more people investing there than when we asked in late 2021. The only areas that saw fewer folks selecting that they are investing in were physical security technologies, physical collaboration tools, and expanding their real estate footprint.
61% of companies are making changes to the physical workplace
So not as many companies are expanding their real estate footprint as they thought. However, these companies are still making changes to their physical space. 61% of workplace leaders said that they have added or reconfigured their space to enable hybrid and fully in-office teams.
Companies are creating more collaboration spaces, more social zones, more meeting rooms, and adding more desks to the office. 12% actually have added more real estate as well.
21% of workplace leaders said they haven’t made any changes to the workplace. 18% said they have actually removed space, probably because not as many employees are on-site anymore.
How to get hybrid employees to choose the workplace
When it comes to getting hybrid employees to choose the workplace, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some companies may choose to make office life a requirement like in pre-pandemic days to reap the benefits of having employees together on-site.
Other companies are leaning into incentives to get their employees back in the office. Time will tell if these incentives work in the long term, but for now, it seems like most think they are successful. According to Tony Vargas, Sprinklr’s Head of Global Workplace, “incentives are great, they’re necessary, and they do work. But if we focus only on incentives, we forget the main thing with it, which is purpose and value.” When you create a space for collaboration, creativity, productivity, culture, and celebration, then you’ll actually get employees excited to choose the office over their home.