Why a good working environment may trump even the nicest work-from-home package
The past two years have shown businesses and employees the possibilities of remote and hybrid work, so getting people back into the office can prove to be a challenge.
It’s essential to develop a back-to-office working model that is both enticing and safe for your employees. Aside from having a flu- and COVID-safe plan for returning to work, open communication and more schedule flexibility, bringing teams back into the office supports productivity and collaboration.
Despite the convenience of working from home and related arrangements, a major reason that staff members need to get back to the office is the sense of community that people get from sharing a space together. Building community at work encourages all internal stakeholders within an organisation to work together effectively and established themselves in their individual roles.
When workplace environments successfully encourage a sense of community among employees, they feel they can rely on each other and are able to work more closely together towards the same goals. This leads to increased trust, respect, empathy and cooperation across the board.
Work-from-home packages are a viable option coming out of the pandemic, but it can be difficult to replicate the conditions that encourage community without an office environment.
What do staff miss out on by working from home?
Remote arrangements have their benefits and can be beneficial for certain team members, but home environments aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and they can cause challenges and problems that hinder workplace productivity and professional development.
Some of the disadvantages of working from home include:
- Workers feel isolated and find it hard to reach out to team members for collaboration.
- Quality home office setups can be costly, and sensitive company documents may require additional expenses like paid Virtual Private Networks to access.
- It’s challenging for workers to avoid distractions of family needing attention and other related household tasks.
Aside from these, a major challenge that can exclusively affect remote workers is burnout. The lack of contact with other teammates, combined with a workload that can be isolating at times, can combine then lead to disengagement and eventually burnout.
Spending too much time in their work corner can push workers off the edge of stress and into burnout. When employees have too much on their plate, like tasks that contribute to a large, month-long project that will chain them to their desks, it contributes to an overwhelming feeling of dread.
Repetitive tasks which don’t seem to contribute to tangible outcomes will also make full-time remote workers feel like they’re not doing anything meaningful at work, which can add to their feelings of anxiety and insecurity about their job, potentially leading to a lack of motivation and eventual burnout.
Dealing with burnout boils down to finding a sense of purpose and excitement while at work–and at a certain point it means turning to others.
What makes a good working environment?
A good working environment allows employees to engage their colleagues, collaborate and brainstorm ideas freely and experience professional growth in a space dedicated to their development.
No home office environment can truly replicate the experience of dedicated mentorship, professional skills training and opportunities to collaborate with team members on even the most challenging projects.
The office is still the most appropriate space for employees to grow because it’s much easier to build a culture of support and development when all staff members are in the same space. Team members’ well-being is affected by how open, collaborative and encouraging their environment is, which is why more people are seeing the value in returning to the office.
Aside from the work culture, maintaining a separate office space can help encourage work-life balance. Generally, team members fall into two categories of worker attitudes; segmenters who compartmentalise their personal and professional lives, and integrators who blend them.
On one hand, segmenters are able to devote more energy to personal and professional projects, even in cases when one aspect becomes more stressful than the other. They’re more able to mentally ‘turn off,’ their work mindset. When segmenters are home, they’re totally focused on their personal life, and no work tasks creep in.
On the other hand, integrators are comfortable with attending to personal and professional tasks on one platform and can be found managing both sides of their lives simultaneously. There’s an increased risk of overwork and burnout with integrators because they tend to work even after office hours are up, as they want to be constantly connected to their tasks.
Having a physical office space to leave behind helps anyone set a better work-life balance for themselves, regardless of their individual mindsets towards work. A clear ‘place of business,’ can give team members a way to draw a line and truly clock out of work.
The good news is that existing workplaces don’t have to undergo radical transformations to be able to accommodate the changing needs of their teams.
Most offices already guarantee standards by law: equipment for the job might include chairs that support team members’ lower back and screens that don’t strain the eyes, especially if these are jobs that spell out extended periods of time seated in front of them. There is also regulation demanding workplaces maintain appropriate conditions, like temperature.
Often all that’s needed is going the extra mile to support both the professional requirements and take genuine steps in caring for team members’ overall welfare at the office.
Teams are unlikely to perform well if they feel tired and unmotivated, so applying wellness activities to the entire workplace–including team leaders and CEOs–is a choice to boost organisational growth.
Investing in workplace well-being shows the team that supervisors care about them as people. When too much of their day comes down to performance numbers and KPIs, staff can feel undervalued and underappreciated. They won’t want to go to work if they don’t feel there’s any merit in showing up at the office, which then contributes to increased absenteeism.
Looking at staff members as individuals with needs shows that their leadership cares about them beyond the stats and figures, which increases their personal satisfaction.
Putting an emphasis on well-being in the workplace also attracts the best new talent. Today’s recruits are actively looking for workplaces that provide well-being programs and look after staff health. Including this in one’s recruitment offer helps attract talent that’s capable and value-aligned with the organisation.
As each organisation will learn, mandating a full work-from-home environment just can’t replicate these benefits and net the kind of positive outcomes that businesses aim for, which is why there’s undeniable value in maintaining dedicated office spaces their employees can use.
How you can create a good work environment in your workplace
Using alternative office solutions can help you create a good work environment while ensuring that your staff are happy and fulfilled.
Coworking spaces are a great solution for employers to foster a good work environment, and it’s a great alternative to traditional office setups, which are often pricey and inaccessible to business owners more focused on building their organisations.
Coworking spaces also offer networking and socialisation opportunities with organisations in the same or successive stages of growth, and an environment conducive to productivity.
Because employees now expect and demand flexible work hours, a traditional 9-5 work model may not be the best setup for encouraging your staff to go back to the office.
A good work environment can go a long way in improving business and staff performance, more so than the convenience of a work-from-home package. Ready to take your team’s progress to another level? Book a tour with us and we’ll find the right space for you to grow.