Numerous tech companies have recently asked their employees to return to the office for at least some of the time.
Google has required its employees to be in-office at least three days a week.
So while tech companies led the way on remote and hybrid work prior to and during the pandemic, they are now leading the way back to the office, often within a structured hybrid model.
Why Return to the Office?
The big tech companies have spent billions of dollars on their office footprints and want to fully utilize their offices to spur collaboration and community-building as keys to driving innovation, business growth, and the employee experience. Technology tools have historically been developed by teams, typically cross-functional teams, working in close proximity.
Google spokesperson Ryan Lamont told CNN that “we want to see Google employees connecting and collaborating in-person,” while an Amazon spokesperson praised “the energy, [in-person] collaboration, and connections happening” in the Amazon office.
Most employees, by the way, also want to return to the office of their tech companies at least some of the time for collaboration and community. The massive majority of people, 84% in fact, would be more likely to come into the office if they knew their colleagues would be there.
Managing Your Tech Offices: What’s at Stake?
Asking people to return to the office and simply assuming everything will go back to some pre-pandemic “normal” isn’t a workplace policy – it’s managerial malpractice and a recipe for wasting people’s time and the money of tech companies. You have to be ready for the new world of hybrid work, and what that means for your office.
What’s at stake is everything that matters to the tech industry, including employee retention, people’s productivity, and the quality of collaboration for innovation. Amazon, for example, was initially viewed as heavy-handed with its return to the office/RTO mandate back in May of this year, and hundreds of its office workers walked out of the office in protest of its mandate. The Seattle-based tech giant experienced months-long delays in its RTO initiative simply because its office spaces were not ready to accommodate the influx of onsite Amazon employees, according to Insider.
That’s embarrassing, unproductive, and creates a negative employee experience, leading to pushback and walkouts within tech companies.
A positive workplace experience, on the other hand. leads to enhanced job satisfaction, higher talent retention, increased productivity, and better organizational performance. Tech companies that invest in enhancing the workplace experience attract and retain the top talent they need to succeed, creating a competitive advantage against tech rivals. Global consultancy Deloitte notes that companies with the top-rated workforce experiences had a three-year revenue growth rate that was 2.3 times greater than the average company.
How can companies in the tech industry achieve their goals for return to office mandates while delivering a superior employee experience?
1. Build the Flexible Workspaces People Want
People want to be in-office in order to collaborate and enjoy the benefits of community, but only if the office is comfortable and accommodates their needs. Tech companies should begin their RTO plan by understanding their office footprint and then considering how their people utilize office resources. Workplace analytics can help identify what spaces are most popular (maybe add more of those), as well as what spaces are going underutilized and can possibly be converted for other uses.
Collect employee feedback around what people want in the workspace and in a hybrid work model. When you bring employees along with you, allowing them to help tailor solutions and office policies, they're more likely to buy into whatever you're doing.
Do you have enough meeting rooms, and do you have the right mix of meeting rooms for the purposes they serve? Are your conference rooms properly equipped with signage, audio-visual tech, and connections?
2. Provide the Tech Tools People Need
Giving people the ability to flexibly and easily book work spaces, including desks and meeting rooms, is essential for getting people back to the office. Chris Schmidt, a Google software engineer, skillfully explained the problem with Google’s RTO efforts: “Many teams are distributed, and for some of us there may not be anyone to collaborate with in our physical office locations,” he said. “workers do not even have enough desks and conference rooms” available for everyone to use.
The right technology can address those office-space challenges, but which specific workplace technologies are most important? Read on . . .
3. Invest in Desk Booking Software
In today’s more flexible world of hybrid work, tech employees don't need dedicated desks. That's why so many tech companies have implemented hot desking, managing each desk as a flexible workspace anyone can book as needed. But you need good desk booking software to make it all work, enabling people to come in, collaborate with colleagues, and do their best work.
4. Invest in an Effective Meeting Room Booking System
By investing in meeting room scheduling software, you equip employees with a seamless, convenient solution to locate and reserve available meeting space whenever needed. They can view meeting room availability in real-time and then select the most suitable option for their specific meeting needs (room size, necessary equipment, etc.), whether it's a small meeting room for one-on-one discussions or a large room for team meetings or big brainstorming sessions.
5. Use Analytics to Continually Measure and Refine
No RTO policy is ever “set and forget.” Indeed, your hybrid work and other workplace strategies should be continually revisited and updated. In order to drive that iterative improvement, many tech companies with hybrid work strategies have turned to an workplace management platform that:
- Enables employees to find and reserve workspaces, making the booking process simpler and more streamlined.
- Allows workplace leaders to visualize and analyze (via workplace analytics) how their physical space is being utilized, empowering them to identify patterns and make timely, appropriate adjustments as needed.
People Needing People
The bottom line on tech companies return to office is that people motivate people to come into the office, whether you’re a tech giant or a small accounting firm. To bring people in, you need to provide them with the tools they need to schedule their visits. People will then leverage these tools to create the workplace experience that’s best for them, so they can do their best work alongside their coworkers.
If you want to improve how you manage your tech offices, Robin is here to help you. Reach out today!