The future of work is in the office — and at home. In 2024, more companies are ramping up their return-to-office (RTO) campaigns, but many are also looking for the version of the hybrid work model that works best for them. It’s a balancing act, and at its center is the workplace technology that helps leaders deliver maximum productivity while also supporting employees’ desire for a strong work-life balance.
Return-to-office campaigns see continued support, more nuance
In a survey of 1000 companies by Resume Builder, 90% of companies say they will be back in the office in 2024. And most plan on implementing employee tracking to make sure it happens.
Leaders are basing their RTO push on the benefits of working together in a shared space. Many of them believe it leads to increased productivity, collaboration, employee engagement, and company culture — all of which boost the bottom line. In fact, according to a 2022 Korn Ferry survey of 15,000 executives, two-thirds say company culture makes up more than 30% of their market value.
The Resume Builder research does lend leaders strong support. Looking at companies that have already returned to the office between 2021 and 223, the majority say they’ve seen increases in revenue and productivity. They also claim improved worker retention.
Hybrid work model programs get long-term strategies
For many companies in the survey, though, returning to the office means coming in when specific tasks require it. Of those looking at RTO for 2024, “only 44% say at least three-quarters of employees will be required to work in-person, and just 19% say 5 days per week will be required.”
With so many already working on the hybrid model, 2024 should be when companies solidify their programs. Back when the model first became widespread, it was hard to predict how long the “new normal” was going to last. Now, companies that are confident the hybrid work model is here to stay need to decide how best to implement it for the long-term.
According to Gallop, the potential challenges for hybrid model employees include:
- Less access to work resources
- Less connection to company culture
- Decreased collaboration with team members
- Impaired working relationship with coworkers
- Reduced cross-functional communication and collaboration
Companies also worry about drops in workplace productivity and innovation.
But the real advantages are there, too, and Gallop reports a more flexible workplace delivers:
- Significantly higher employee engagement
- Better overall well-being
- Better employee value proposition
- Larger talent pool
Employees on successful hybrid work models also have lower turnover intentions than fully on-site workers who are remote-capable.
So, companies in 2024 want to find the version of the hybrid model that works best for them and their employees. Gallop’s advice: Organizations “must thoughtfully create and fully commit to a strategy.”
Workplace tech becomes even more important
Workplace technology is going to remain center stage in 2024 as organizations and employees look for the most efficient ways to work.
Companies have been using technology to bring people together online, to focus on collaborating while remote, and to encourage more purposeful conversations with managers, company leadership, and peers. While these tools aid connection, employees still need some form of in-person collaboration.
Virtual meetings aren’t a perfect substitute for the spontaneous and serendipitous interactions that occur more naturally in the office. In-person collaboration opens the door for unplanned conversations that spark creativity, in turn offering more opportunities for innovation.
The future of the workplace is in tools that support a more hybrid workforce. Employees working remotely have different needs than office-based workers — and it’s important to understand what those are so your company can avoid setbacks that hurt productivity.
The modern workplace should encourage connection. It also needs to reflect a more open and autonomous experience for employees, a place that allows both utility and mobility, so they don’t feel limited to a single location.
How can workplace leaders leverage trends in 2024?
People have become more mindful of their work experience, and this will inevitably extend to the physical workplace. Delivering a world-class employee experience is a multi-step, ongoing process.
Ask the right questions
Leadership needs to ask the right questions when adjusting priorities in the workplace, including:
- How much change can people tolerate, and how much time do they need?
- What do we value about our time in the office?
- How do we share space in ways that maximize utilization?
- What truly supports a hybrid culture?
- How do we preserve a sense of safety and security?
- How do we preserve a sense of belonging?
Embrace technology that supports you now and over the long-term
Remember that your metrics and key performance indicators are only as good as the data you use to generate them. If you don’t have accurate numbers for occupancy, for example, your utilization rates are going to be off, making it much harder to decide on the right size for your real estate footprint. And if you don’t know which spaces are the most popular with employees, you might not be providing the right ones.
By implementing a visitor management system, though, you can not only increase security right away but also cut real estate costs by only carrying as much as you need. And with a desk booking platform, you can deliver a better employee experience while also making sure you have both the right amount and right kinds of spaces. Using historical reservation data, you can decide if you already have the best mix of individual desks and meeting rooms or should be looking at a new floor plan.
Keep an eye on new developments in BIM and employee experience
In the past, there were sharper divides between the phases of a facility’s life cycle. During design and construction, teams could produce and share large building information modeling (BIM) data sets that helped them keep projects on time and under budget. Unfortunately, that valuable data never made it to the handover, and operations and maintenance teams had to invest a lot of time and energy restarting from scratch.
But a new alliance between industry leaders Autodesk™ and Eptura ™ now makes it possible to feed BIM data into facility management workflows, specifically through a digital twin of the facility. On top of the operational and capital planning benefits, this bi-directional, continuous data loop enhances the occupant experience. By combining the digital twin with a workplace management solution, you can optimize space management based on occupancy and system analytics.