As more and more of us work in a hybrid model, it’s important to consider the impact that corporate seniority has on how we approach going to the office. It’s easy to assume that all workers have the same motivation for visiting the workplace. Our most recent quarterly data finds several notable nuances depending on whether you’re an individual contributor, a mid-level manager, or a senior leader.
Understanding what motivates you and your team members is key when deciding how often you should visit the workplace. It’s important that both employers and employees take into account all of these factors – including isolation, loneliness, lack of social opportunities – when creating an effective work from home and workplace experience.
What motivates us to visit the office depends on our management level
Senior management often requires more frequent visits to the office than junior staff to stay connected with colleagues, have face-to-face conversations, and access resources only found in the office. At the same time, managers understand that employees need a work-life balance and must be given some freedom to manage their commuting schedules – especially for fully remote workers.
Our data shows a clear movement back to the workplace because social connection and collaboration magnetize the office. The ability to collaborate with colleagues is a key motivator for visiting the office. When working from home, it can be difficult to replicate the same level of collaboration as being physically present with other human beings. Face-to-face communication allows for more organic problem solving and better decision making, as well as helping to foster team spirit.
When asked to rank the three things they appreciate most about going to the office, senior managers and middle managers both rank collaborating with colleagues highest. While socializing with friends/colleagues is the next most important thing for middle managers, senior managers rank in person contact with their manager second and place a much higher value on better career progression.
Many senior leaders manage across four to five generations, often with different priorities, as is by our survey. When you break down non-managers by age band, we see a tipping point at around 45 years old. The 18- to 44-year-old band prioritizes socializing with friends/colleagues while the 45- to 64-year-old band ranks collaborating with colleagues number one. Interestingly, however, younger generations of employees have more spontaneous meetings and collaboration than other groups.
While being overlooked for career opportunities is a concern for everyone, it’s surprisingly low, especially among non-managers and middle managers who ranked it sixth and seventh overall as a risk for not going to the office.
It suggests the higher an employee grows in a company, the more concerned they are about being out of sight and out of mind for promotion opportunities. Better career progression was ranked significantly higher by senior managers than middle managers and non-managers.
We analyze our global data quarterly. See our findings based on analysis of 2.7 million desks, 37,000 buildings, and 440,000 floors across more than 8,000 companies.
Isolation, loneliness, and lack of social opportunities impact home workers
The lack of connection for younger generations correlates with non-managers’ responses when asked about the greatest risks of not attending the office. Overall, non-managers ranked fewer opportunities to socialize with friends/colleagues as the biggest risk, and increased sense of loneliness or isolation third.
Remote working has become more normal in recent years. While there are certainly advantages to remote working – such as fewer office distractions and increased productivity – there can also be negative effects, such as isolation, loneliness, and lack of social opportunities which can significantly impact the mental health and well-being of home workers.
The absence of physical connection with colleagues can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially when video calls and other virtual communication solutions cannot replace in-person conversations. This is compounded by the fact that many people may feel disconnected from their peers due to a lack of social opportunities outside of work. Without human interaction or a sense of community, feelings of loneliness and isolation can become overwhelming very quickly.
Recent studies have revealed that while remote workers do benefit from fewer office distractions which leads to higher productivity levels, this comes at a cost if they don’t have enough social support available during their working hours. It is not just about having someone to talk to; It is about having meaningful conversations with peers who share similar interests which can help foster creativity and collaboration within teams.
The need for work and home boundaries is another motivation for office visits
Working from home can be a great experience, but it also requires clear boundaries between work and home life. To ensure that tasks are completed efficiently, and that personal time is respected, it’s important to have dedicated working hours and take regular breaks from work.
Setting expectations with family and friends about when one is available will help them to understand why you need to focus on your job during certain hours. Communication is key here. Make sure you keep your colleagues updated about when you’re taking a break or are unavailable for the day.
But some employees are now showing a tendency to want to come back to an office to help reinforce boundaries. Our data shows over a third (32%) of employee’s rank establishing a boundary between work and home as a top three priority after socializing and collaborating. The need for physical separation is an identifiable trend. It allows for the mental separation of work from personal life.
And while we also know hybrid work is today’s standard working model, we’ll be watching closely to see if the need for a physical boundary expands. By creating clear boundaries between work and home life, remote workers can ensure that they get the most out of their professional lives without sacrificing their mental health or well-being.
Studies show that social connections play a central role in fostering a sense of purpose and well-being in the workplace. They also impact the bottom line: effective management of social capital within organizations facilitates learning and knowledge sharing, increases employee retention and engagement, reduces burnout, sparks innovation, and improves employee and organizational performance, according to Harvard Business Review.
Focus on bookings vs. utilization for space planning
It’s time to better understand office use with workplace data. To calculate the right balance of meeting rooms, desks and breakout spaces, data from booking software, sensors, and access control points can all be aggregated to provide a snapshot of what kinds of spaces are most in demand and what are actually being used.
Know who is in the office
Employers can use presence awareness and automated space-release technology to facilitate spontaneous collaboration by allowing employees to see who’s in the office and where they are sitting and working.
Ask what employees want, regularly, and test
employers can collect direct employee feedback on the type of breakout areas they desire. For example, do they need privacy, or do they want open spaces? Then, you can test it out using utilization data to measure if what workers say they want matches what they do – and report the numbers to everyone.
Dive in. Download the Q2 Workplace Index