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It’s tough to be an organization that mandates physical attendance in an age where it seems like everyone is telecommuting. Nevertheless, it's definitely possible to foster an environment in which your employees would rather be at work than at home (at least most days). Here are some ideas for making that happen.
Every staff is different. Ask your people what they value about being in the office all day. Is lunch selection important? Is it face time with the boss? What about access to tech and IT systems that make their jobs easier? Listen carefully, and try to take action on as many things as you can control. This will show employees that you truly care and should spur more positive engagement.
Even if your office isn’t located in the most aesthetically pleasing setting, open those windows and take advantage of whatever natural light is available to you. Consider offering amenities like a place to exercise, lifestyle benefits and special events like a morning of onsite massages. And make sure the building isn’t cluttered and chaotic, as hopefully employees will see your office as a way to get away from those conditions at home.
A few years ago, open floor plans were all the rage, and many organizations tore down their cubicles and broke down individual office doors. But was this wise? I used to think so, but I’m rethinking it after a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health found that people who work in open plan offices take 62 percent more sick days than those who work in their own enclosed spaces, and another study by Virginia State University and North Carolina State University revealed that people who work in open plan offices are less productive.
Remember that your employees have lives outside of work, and in an office where they’re expected to show up from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., those lives will inevitably intrude sometimes. Don’t get bent out of shape if a team member has to leave early for a home closing or take a day off because his child is sick. Face time is important, but so are results, and being understanding will make it less likely that your employees will leave for a more flexible workplace.
The only thing I miss about working full time in an established organization is seeing my team every day. I loved the informal, spontaneous conversations and the opportunity to build close relationships. Encourage your employees to socialize with one another, and provide outlets such as volunteer work and extracurriculars for them to get to know each other better.
There is, however, such a thing as too much togetherness. Creating a meeting-happy culture where the same things get rehashed every week will make your employees wish for the time-efficient quiet of their home offices. Before scheduling a meeting, check that you have a solid agenda and that the gathering will result in clear progress on a team goal. And be sparing with the group brainstorming if you want it to be truly creative and innovative.
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