Companies Reimagine the Office to Lure Workers Back
Companies Invest in Office Perks
Consumer goods company Unilever (UL) is among the companies working to create a better in-person office experience in the late stages of the pandemic. Though many offices have reopened on a voluntary basis, employees have been reluctant to return. In some instances, employees who return are working alone. In other cases they end up on video meetings all day. For these and other reasons, a lot of people are still opting to work from home.
To entice workers to come back, companies are reinventing the office. They are implementing technology to make it easier for employees to coordinate in-person visits, overhauling spaces to make them more appealing, and enhancing food and beverage options for people who come in to work.
Collaborative Spaces Are All the Rage
Unilever said it is trying to create spaces rather than offices. It is designating specific days for different teams to be together with the goal of having the office 40% full a majority of the time.
Salesforce (CRM) is also overhauling its office spaces. The company’s executive offices in its headquarters have been turned into small conference rooms where employees can gather. The software company expanded the square footage of its cafeterias, adding more TVs, whiteboards, and couches. Salesforce plans to devote 60% of its space to collaboration areas. Prior to the pandemic it was around 40%.
Companies Dangle Hotel-Like Amenities
Beyond reimagining existing office space, some companies are betting brand new buildings will lure workers back. That is the case for the consulting firm Accenture, which recently opened a new New York City office. It sits at the top of a tower close to NYC’s Hudson Yards. Employees have access to an outdoor terrace, views of the city, reflection zones where technology is banned, and wellness areas. Accenture is also working on an app that will enable employees to find other colleagues in the office to make sure people aren’t isolated.
People can be creatures of habit and many have had two years to get used to working at home. Employers are trying to find ways to make workers more enthusiastic about returning to the office. It’s not yet clear if overhauled office spaces and posh amenities will do the trick.
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