Since the new year began, a growing number of firms have begun to demand that more workers show up in-office. As a result, the hybrid model that took hold in the work environment after the pandemic is mostly settling into a 3:2 ratio in favour of the corporate office. However, some employers are thinking about a full return to the corporate office. In order not to lose employees who increasingly prefer home office-enabled work, they now need to address both the attractiveness of their offices and their relationships with their people.
According to research by Colliers, a leading provider of diversified professional services in commercial real estate and investment management, the factors that strengthen feelings of belonging inside a company include, first and foremost, a strong relationship with the manager, a positive company culture and the opportunity for employees to be actively involved in decision-making processes.
Hybrid work models that offer flexibility in terms of time and place are popular with Czech employees. This is clearly shown by reactions to job advertisements. Those job offers that provide flexibility attract on average up to seven times as many applicants as offers without the possibility to work from home. “Employers who choose to return to full in-office work structures will therefore need to be able to offer something extra. For example, in addition to an attractive working environment, they can also offer high-quality technological and ergonomic facilities, which in most cases they cannot provide employees who work from home. In addition, a strong company culture will help to create a sense of belonging between the employee and the company. However, this is equally important for companies that maintain a hybrid working model,” explains Jana Vlková, Director of Workplace Advisory and Office Agency at Colliers.
What do employees appreciate?
According to a recent Colliers survey, a quality and supportive relationship with a supervisor plays a crucial role in building good employer-employee relationships. 63 percent of respondents said this. An employee who has an open, constructive relationship with a manager feels supported and contributes positively to the company environment, to which they then form a strong connection. For 56 percent of employees, the company’s culture, which includes things like the transparency of the company in its policies and decision-making, its value system or the attractiveness of the offices all play a decisive role. Being actively involved in decision-making and innovation is considered key by 52 percent of employees, and for 48 percent of respondents, recognition of their contributions is important. The latter increases feelings of appreciation and motivates better performance.
How to make offices more attractive?
For more than half of employees, the environment in which they work plays an important role. Employers should therefore try to adapt to new trends in creating attractive office spaces. Not only is emphasis on focused and creative work important, but also on an environment that encourages collaboration and team meetings. “In today’s offices, 30-40 percent of the space is allocated to individual workstations and 60-70 percent to team collaboration and relaxation. This is a mirror reversal of the pre-pandemic situation. Smaller meeting rooms for 2-6 people are important, which also serve to support virtual meetings. Companies can also easily adapt their spaces with mobile phone booths and meeting modules for up to 6 people in a previously densely occupied open space,” advises Jana Vlková, adding that data suggests that the investment in transformation will pay off in the form of happy, engaged employees.
Occupancy is still low, 2024 will be a breakthrough year
“Office occupancy levels have been slow to pick up after the pandemic, averaging only around 35 percent according to recent surveys. Perhaps this is why some employers, especially international companies, are taking a more intense approach to in-office presence, in which they have often invested heavily in recent years and thus adapted their office spaces to the latest trends,” says Jana Vlková, adding that this year will be a turning point in this respect. It will show whether the hybrid model has taken root in our country to the extent that there is no going back to the traditional setup.