As I was browsing the internet the other day, I stumbled upon something new to me: Return to Office (RTO) goals.
It got me thinking and left me with a bunch of questions. Why is RTO important? What is considered a good RTO? Is hybrid work not working anymore? How will RTO affect employee stress and well-being?
So, I did a little Googling, and here is what I found: RTO goals are meant to encourage employees to use the available office space. But here is the thing that got me wondering—do these goals motivate people to come to the office, or do they just feel forced because they do not want to fall short of the goal?
Hybrid workers are more engaged - and more stressed
According to Gallup, employees are more engaged at work than ever - but they also feel more stressed. Since Gallup started reporting the global metric in 2009, employee engagement has been on a steady incline, rising from 12% to 23% (with a temporary drop in 2020).
What is even more interesting about the findings is, that while exclusively remote and hybrid employees report higher employee engagement, they also report higher stress. This aspect is interesting because the second most prominent reason why employees worldwide favor hybrid work is its positive impact on their overall well-being. The most prominent reason is to avoid commute time, which you can read more about in this blog post.
You might think that remote and hybrid workers are more stressed because their work life is less predictable and structured. But here is the surprise: employee engagement actually has 3.8 times more impact on stress than where they work. In other words, it is what people experience in their day-to-day work that affects their stress levels the most, regardless of their physical location.
According to Gallup, the real culprit behind this stress is poor management. They found that a whopping 80% of employees who received meaningful feedback in the past week are fully engaged, no matter how many days they spend working in the office.
The modern office is shrinking
Considering how pricy real estate can be, it is only logical to aim for a fully occupied office space. The average U.S. office listing rate is $38.36 per square foot with class A office space costing more than $129 per square foot in Manhattan.
With the majority of office workers only visiting the office once per week, a lot of office space is left unused. This is reflected in the office space per employee, which is now at a 22+-year low. The current space per employee has fallen nearly 5% from already-lean pre-pandemic levels to 152 sq ft.
By downsizing your office, you can significantly cut down on the costs of unused space. However, it is worth considering bringing your employees back on-site anyway…
Research shows that employees who work on-site two to three days per week experience higher levels of engagement, improved well-being, and reduced likelihood of job searching or burning out.
However, simply having a return-to-office goal or policy is not enough to bring people back. To encourage employees to return, you need to provide them with a compelling reason to step foot in the office.
RTO as an indicator
While an RTO goal may not be the most compelling reason for anyone to return to the office, it can serve as a valuable indicator of how employees perceive your workspace.
A high RTO can be a positive indication that employees enjoy visiting the office, suggesting that they thrive in that environment. Conversely, a low RTO may suggest that workers do not find your office supportive of their productivity or satisfaction.
Indoor mapping can help you use your office space more efficiently, allowing you to reduce the amount of unused office space and real estate costs but it can also help you create an employee-centric workplace that your employees will love.
Create an employee-centric office with an indoor map
An indoor map enables you to see how your spaces are being used and optimize them accordingly. Maybe desks in one area are always left unused, while meeting rooms are always occupied, indicating a need for more meeting rooms or “focus areas”.
On the other hand, you may also find that booked resources are left unused. By integrating your booking solution with an indoor map and occupancy sensors, you can automate your workspace so that bookings are canceled if the room or desk is not in use within a certain period of time. Likewise, they will be booked if they are in use even though they have not been booked in advance.
While working from home has its benefits, employees still value spending in-person time and collaborating with colleagues. By optimizing your space usage and layout, you can make space for collaboration areas and recreation areas for small-talking, foosball, or table tennis.
An indoor map also lets you visualize important information in real-time, making it easier to access and understand. This increases productivity by making it easy for employees to find and book available resources, reduces time waste and frustration by equipping everyone with accurate wayfinding at their fingertips, and enhances overall well-being by enabling people to check the temperature, humidity, CO2 or noise level before booking a room or desk for the day.
If you are looking to create a more compelling workspace or curious about the potential of indoor mapping for your office, we are always here to help. Feel free to reach out for a quick chat or a personal demo, and we will be glad to assist you.