5 Ways to Motivate Employees to Return to the Office

April 19, 2023

By HEAL Wellness

While many companies have found that work from home or fully remote work works best for their teams, some of our clients are trying to encourage their employees to come into the office at least a few days a week. While some employees may be eager to return, you’ll also have some who are resistant to even a few days in the office and are thriving in their remote work environments. It’s important that employees view the transition as purposeful, beneficial and desirable.

Here are 5 ways you can motivate employees to return to the office:

Create a Welcoming Environment

Employers can make the office environment welcoming and comfortable for employees to encourage them to return. This can include offering ergonomic chairs, standing desks, natural lighting, and a variety of collaborative workspaces. If the office is loud, it’s difficult to find a seat, or challenging to book a board room, employees will be frustrated that they’re mandated to be at the office when the workspace they’ve built at home by now is probably comfortable and convenient.

Highlight the Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction

One of the things that makes an office unique is the social component. Research by Microsoft found that when asked what would motivate them to come into the office, 85% of employees would be motivated to rebuild team bonds and 73% of employees would go to the office more frequently if they knew their direct team members would be there.

There are some tasks that really can benefit from face-to-face interaction so take advantage of that opportunity while you have it. Encourage managers to use this time for team and project meetings, client meetings, for collaborative tasks, and to support and check in with individual team members. Try to prioritize work at the office that cannot as easily be completed at home. These interactions can help build stronger relationships with coworkers, improve communication, and increase productivity.

Provide Opportunities for Professional Development

Employers can offer training and development opportunities to employees to help them improve their skills and advance their careers. While these can undoubtedly be done online, some employees may prefer the format of in person training and may find it easier to engage with the content. You can take this a step further by offering lunch as part of the in-person offering.

Offer Employee Benefits

Incentives and certain perks can encourage employees to want to work from the office. This can include health and wellness benefits, snack or lunches, and company-sponsored events or team-building opportunities. These are another opportunity to build strong social bonds, which can positively influence someone’s job satisfaction and even their desire to stay at a company.

Some of our clients are using in-person lunch & learns to bring everyone together while also promoting health and well-being. We’ve found that not only is engagement high at these events but employees are also more likely to reach out to us for more tailored guidance when they’ve made that in-person connection. We also have clients using our wellness challenges to encourage teams participating in the program to get together more regularly. While it’s a virtual program, we can sprinkle in in-person events throughout to get more employees in person in the office.

Keep It Flexible

One of the primary reasons employees may have been hesitant to return to the office is the newfound flexibility they enjoy with remote work. Employers can offer flexible schedules to employees that allow them to work from home on certain days or work from the office on a reduced schedule. You can also leave this up to individual teams to coordinate.

Finally, what’s important to highlight in all of this is that how you communicate these changes and new policies is crucial for how they’re received. Develop a clear, transparent and inclusive communication plan and allow for a transition period so employees with families or unique living arrangements can adapt.