Today’s chapter on getting employees back into the office is a new one for everyone. There isn’t one right way to go about this. With Covid cases and restrictions easing over the summer, many companies have made a big return-to-office (RTO) push this fall.
What is clear though is that there are not-so-ideal ways to approach rolling out return-to-office. Some companies, like Apple, made aggressive top-down mandates for their employees to be in the office 3 days a week. Some employees pushed back while others quit. Many felt that their needs were unheard and they were not sold on the reasons for the mandate. From our most recent At Work survey, a disconnect between the executives and employees about the workplace is real. And it is playing out in some of these unsuccessful RTO attempts.
So how can workplaces successfully roll out an RTO strategy that meets the needs of both the company and its employees?
The answer lies within your return-to-office analytics.
As you fine-tune your RTO strategies, it’s important to take an experimental approach and analyze how you’re doing. Here are the top three return-to-office analytics you need to improve your RTO strategies.
3 return-to-office analytics to track to increase workplace attendance
1. Office attendance trends
Are you tracking your employee attendance rates over time?
The answer to this key question is the foundation for measuring your RTO success. Once you have this data as a baseline, you can test out new RTO tactics to see how they affect your attendance rates week-over-week and month-over-month.
Some of the trends you should be looking for include:
- Which days are busier than others?
- Do certain teams go into the office more often than others?
With these foundational insights, you can better understand how your employees actually use the workplace and improve your RTO tactics. For example, you may find that too many teams are coming in on the same day of the week. There might be some teams that prefer to work in the office on days when it’s less busy, so you can encourage them to come in on those days instead.
2. Attendance by different office locations
You can fine-tune your RTO strategies and take them to the next level by experimenting with different tactics. Taking an experimental approach yields the best results when there’s a controlled group and a variable group. If your company has multiple office locations, then you can test different tactics simultaneously. Your results will then show how various office locations perform, helping you to make decisions backed by recent data.
Scenario 1: return-to-office tactics using multiple locations
Let’s say you have three offices. You’ve noticed that the office attendance rates have been steady at 60% for the last 2 months across these locations. Your company would like to increase it to 65%. You and your team have many ideas to try, such as organizing weekly social hours and setting up in-person professional development weekly sessions. To see which approach moves the needle the most, your team tests different tactics across different locations. They organize weekly social hours in one office. They set up in-person professional development weekly sessions in the second office. They keep the third office as it is.
After testing these ideas for a month, your team gets some interesting insights. The office with the weekly social hours saw its attendance rates increased to 75% but only for the first and third weeks. This might mean that having social hours weekly was too frequent for employees. The second office with the in-person professional development weekly sessions saw its attendance rates increase 5% week-over-week. By week four, attendance was 80%. This shows that in-person professional development sessions were more valuable than weekly social hours over time.
Now that your team has the data from the variable locations on what works to bring employees into the office, your company decides to roll out across all the locations both the social hours and the in-person professional development sessions. Instead of hosting them weekly though, your team decides to stagger them on a bi-weekly basis, which keeps them fresh and exciting for the employees to attend. As a result, your company sees an increase to 75% weekly attendance rates consistently for months across all the locations, surpassing its initial goal of 65%.
Scenario 2: return-to-office tactics using one location
Don’t have multiple office locations? Or are the locations too different to compare? You can still test out which return-to-office tactics work better by rolling them out to specific floors, departments, or days of the week.
Here are some examples:
- Provide free lunch every Tuesday to see how that affects your attendance for that day of the week.
- Upgrade the tech on a specific floor and dedicate it as a focused work floor to see if it attracts employees who typically don’t work on-site to come.
- Run events, like social hours, in-person development sessions, or executive fireside chats, for a few weeks to see which ones bring more employees on-site consistently.
3. Space utilization
One of the biggest challenges organizations face is that they have too much workspace and not enough people to fill it. When employees are spread across a big office, it can feel empty and sparse. Folks don’t feel a sense of connection with their colleagues. They don’t see the point of being on-site. That is why it is so important to find the sweet spot for your space. You don’t want it to be too big that it feels dead, or too small that it feels cramped.
Optimizing your space can be a good way to make the workplace better for those working on-site. For example, if your employees are spread across multiple floors in your office, then reducing the number of floors might help folks to connect by being physically closer together.
To test that out, your team can close some floors so employees can only work on the remaining open floors. Then you analyze your office attendance rates. Chances are, the data shows attendance rates steadily increase over time, as more and more employees get a positive experience of being near their colleagues and work friends when they’re on-site. This change to your workspace might help drive a sense of community for your employees, improving peoples’ workplace experience.
You should also measure other space analytics to see how you could optimize space usage, such as your conference rooms and hot desk neighborhoods. Then you can make smarter data-driven decisions about your space by answering questions such as:
- How many rooms or neighborhoods are being used?
- Are some used more often than others?
- What days and times are they used more frequently?
- Do you have enough conference rooms?
- Should some hot desk neighborhoods be expanded to accommodate the teams that come on-site more?
Making adjustments to your space based on your space utilization data should help you create a space that is more vibrant and efficient for collaboration. Plus, you may find that you could use space management software to help right-size your space to save on real-estate costs.
How to start tracking return-to-office analytics
The workplace tools of yesterday cannot solve the challenges facing workplaces today. To ensure your workplace is successful today, tomorrow, and beyond, having the right tools and the right return-to-office analytics in place is key.
If you’re interested in tracking the return-to-office analytics mentioned in this post, look into Envoy’s all-in-one workplace platform.
With Envoy, you can make it easy for your employees to schedule time to collaborate in the office, create a thriving, flexible workplace, and get all the necessary return-to-office analytics in one spot.
Start increasing your workplace attendance today. Try Envoy for free.