Redefining the Role of the Office in 2022

By
Catherine Tansey
·
January 3, 2022
office 2022, hybrid office, remote work, office culture

We’ve learned a lot about the workplace over the course of the pandemic. COVID-19 taught us that many teams function very well in a remote environment. It’s also taught us that not all employees love working remotely.

What is the role of the office in 2022?

Companies found that while certain work or tasks were well suited to remote work, some teams preferred the possibilities that stem from in-person collaboration and communication. 

Eden Workplace’s Return to Work Survey found that employees craved the social aspect of the office. Employees reported that they missed the ability to catch up with colleagues in-person, and many said they looked forward to the chance to escape the house.

Going into 2022, employees have made it clear they want an office to go to—85% of employees report feeling excited to return to the office at least part-time—but just as we’ve changed, the workplace must, too. 

Returning to the pre-COVID office and way of work isn’t the right move. Rather, companies are on the hook to build a new workplace model that works for their teams going forward.

How do employees see themselves coming back to the office? 

Eighty-five percent of employees say they look forward to returning to the office. But this doesn’t mean they are eager to return to the pre-pandemic style of work. For one, employees have made it clear that they want the flexibility of a hybrid work arrangement, meaning that employees want access to an office but also the flexibility to work from non-office locations. 

Additionally, with the on-going health crisis, employees cite concerns about their employers ensuring health and safety measures at the office. For businesses preparing to bring employees back to the office, it’s smart to get a pulse on what the company can do to ensure workers feel safe and supported.

What parts of the office should you leave in 2021

Flexibility is the keyword for offices going into 2022. As we move away from rigid forms of working (think reserved desks and fixed working hours), companies that make flexibility the cornerstone of their workplace model will thrive. 

1. Requiring everyone to be in the office all the time. 

While many executives want employees back in the office full-time (or close to it), we know that employees don’t feel the same way. After nearly two years of working from home the majority of the time, employees struggle to see the logic behind an “all hands on deck at the office” approach. 

Our Return to Office survey highlighted one learning more than anything else: employees want flexibility. Requiring employees to be in the office Monday through Friday, 9-5, will likely create tension among the workforce. 

2. Dedicated desks for employees

For companies adopting hybrid office arrangements, it’s smart to consider hot desks with a desk booking tool as opposed to dedicated offices or desks for your entire team. 

Since not all employees will be in the office all the time, companies can support flexibility and collaboration by enabling employees to reserve a desk in advance for the day. 

3. Flashy in-office perks

We’ve long known that a positive company culture has nothing to do with perks like pingpong tables and kombucha on tap. This rings even more true now that employees will be spending less time in the office than pre-pandemic. 

Consider phasing out location-dependent perks in favor of perks or benefits that employees can use from afar, like lunch stipends or a financial wellness benefit. 

How to build a hybrid workplace in 2022

Successful hybrid workplaces have buy-in from the team as a whole. Work with the HR function at your company to conduct employee surveys to better understand the best hybrid approach for your company.

Be sure to ask your team about:

  • Ideal in-office schedules for each employee 
  • Employee comfort level with capacity limits for in-person gatherings
  • Safety protocols employees would like to see in place
  • Preferences on mandatory vaccination policy

You’ll need buy-in from your workforce for a successful hybrid workplace, but you’ll also need clear expectations and the right tools in place. 

After surveying employees to get a pulse check on ideal hybrid workplace schedules, be sure you communicate the company’s finalized policy. Share expectations for in-office working via corporate communications and train managers on routinely communicating this information to employees. 

Tools will help determine the success of your hybrid workplace, too. Companies will need different resources to help support this new way of working. Desk booking software will support companies that opt for a hot desking arraignment where employees do not have designated desks or workspaces. A visitor management tool can enable safe office visits from vendors, and clients while ensuring the health and safety of the office is maintained. And room scheduling software makes it easy for employees to reserve space for meetings or collaboration.

For more on the necessary tools to build a solid hybrid office, check our blog post 6 Essential Tools to Create a Great Hybrid Workplace

The office is an important part of your company—but it might look a little different in 2022

Going into 2022, the office isn’t obsolete—in fact, far from it. Having an office is important as it allows your workforce to collaborate as a team, and in-person interactions build bonds between employees. 

In 2022, the challenge will be maintaining this sense of in-person connection in a way that keeps employees safe, happy, and feeling supported, while maintaining business operations.