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How to design on-site experiences to bring employees to the workplace

In this post, we’ll walk through a few types of on-site events you can host that will improve the hybrid work experience.

When you’re on-site with your work besties and sharing a laugh at lunch, you can feel a real connection to your workplace. With more employees heading back to the office, it’s important to create opportunities for shared workplace memories and experiences again. A positive workplace experience can help employees feel part of a community, a sense of belonging, and excited to return to the office. 

A great way to create a positive workplace experience is by hosting on-site events such as happy hours, lunches, game nights, and more. But planning for these events is no easy feat, especially if you don’t have accurate data on how many people to expect on-site. With an investment in hybrid workplace tools that provide real-time data, you can prepare for and plan exciting on-site experiences.

In this post, we’ll walk through a few different types of on-site experiences that will improve the hybrid work experience and make employees excited to come into work. We’ll go over:

  1. How to plan special on-site events
  2. How to plan desk experiences
  3. How to plan team events & trainings

How to plan special on-site events

1.  All-hands meetings

All-hands meetings are opportunities for executive leadership to speak directly to employees. They allow your entire organization to get together to sync on high-level company priorities and company-wide matters. If you have a large and distributed team, you might have people visiting (or connecting virtually) from all over. How you manage your office space is important here. You’ll want to find a large area that you can convert into a gathering space.

Set up a podium or desk at the front soyou can angle your cameras. You’ll need good audio equipment and a screen display that allows  on-site folks to see their remote coworkers and vice versa. Again, knowing how many people to expect can make planning for this kind of meeting a lot easier. If your employee scheduling tool shows that 50+ people will be in the office, that will require a more robust seating set-up. You might need to clear desks to make space for more chairs. If your data shows that only five people are planning to be in the office, consider converting a meeting room into the dedicated all-hands space. 

2. Social events

Happy hours are a great way to bring people together to socialize, chat, and enjoy being in the workplace with coworkers. On-site happy hours can be as simple as a few drinks with some chips and guacamole, or they can be elaborate and connected to a special theme. For example, perhaps you host a holiday-themed happy hour or a board games and brew theme happy hour. 

Once you’ve picked a day (and maybe a theme too), announce it to the company and get folks to RSVP by registering to come on-site in your scheduling app. That way you can secure a vendor and place an order of food based on how many people have scheduled to come on-site that day. This doesn’t have to be an exact science. In fact, it shouldn’t. You’ll want to account for more people being there than you expect.

3. New hire orientations

With the pandemic (mostly) behind us, new employees get to onboard in person again. Depending on your company’s hiring plans, you might be hosting new hire orientations every few weeks. To keep up with frequent onboarding experiences, create a plan you can replicate every time you have a new class. 

You’ll want to make sure someone is at the lobby to greet and direct new hires to where they need to go. A visitor management system will help alert your HR team exactly when and who has arrived at the office. 

Next, you’ll also want to use a conference room scheduling tool and book a conference room for use for the whole day. 

Remember, not every single new hire will be at your headquarters. Encourage new starters to register for whichever office they’ll be in, so you know who to expect on-site and who to expect remotely. This not only helps you to plan meeting and desk spaces for the on-site folks in your different office locations, but it also helps you plan what remote tools you’ll need for other people to dial in. For example, you might need to work with your IT and HR team to ensure your remote folks have their company laptops mailed to them in advance of their first day. 

4. Hybrid events 

When planning on-site events, don’t forget about your remote employees. Just because they’re at home, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to join in on the fun. Consider planning events that can be easily conducted both on-site and virtually. 

Movie nights, for example, are a great way to include remote folks, since they can Zoom in and watch the movie on their own screen. Setting up a movie night in your office shouldn’t take more than an hour. You’ll have to clear out a movie viewing space, set up chairs based on the number of registered employees, sync up your video and audio equipment, and pop a ton of popcorn. 

You could also consider trivia nights, stand-up comedy, or cooking classes. You just want to be mindful of replicating the experience for both on-site and remote teams by providing them all the necessary materials and the meeting information. 

How to plan desk experiences

When your employees come into the workplace, their first drop-off point is going to be their desk. And while a desk may just seem like a place to get work done, it can actually be made an exciting part of the workday. 

Make sure each desk comes fashioned with the essential amenities your employees need to get through their tasks like monitors, keyboards, laptop stands, and more. You can vary the amenities on different desks to allow employees to choose a workspace that meets their needs for the day. 

Aside from amenities, you can also plan fun desk surprises that will put a smile on your employee’s faces. For example, if there’s a major company milestone, you can place a company-branded shirt or swag on every desk that’s registered for the day. If there’s a holiday like Halloween or Valentine’s Day, consider handing out treats or snacks on registered desks. These kinds of gestures don’t take too long and are an easy way to delight your employees when they come on-site. 

How to plan team events & trainings

Being back in the office means a return of in-person training and fun team events. Your engineering team might be organizing a hackathon, your sales team might have an on-site learning luncheon, or your data team might be hosting an analytics workshop. These kinds of training and work-related team events will require coordination with managers and department leads.

On top of booking a meeting space for these events, you might need to bring in materials such as computers, special equipment, notebooks, snacks, and more. Plus, you might have some folks participating in the training while others go about their normal work day.

Be sure to look at how many employees registered for the training or event as well as how many employees total will be on-site. That way you can plan for enough lunch and space to accommodate everyone on those days. 

Planning for team events, whether they are big team meetings, fun team experiences like birthday lunches, or team training, all takes advanced planning and coordination with managers.

When planning for hybrid work, it can be easy to spend most of your time planning hybrid workplace tools and policies. But you shouldn’t forget how important on-site experiences are for engaging employees and helping them feel excited to return to the workplace.

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Maria Akhter
Author Bio Maria Akhter

Maria is a content marketing manager at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, her passions include exploring the outdoors, checking out local farmers' markets, and drinking way too much coffee.