The journey to the office can be a major block when conflating the desires of employee and employer on workplace attendance. We examine what questions employers should be asking to get around this block.

Recent surveys suggest loneliness is a key issue for those working from home – especially younger workers, of whom 81% say it’s a problem (versus 64% over 35s).

But even so, the proportion of people still opting to work either from home, or from close to home, is higher than many employers would like. Loneliness isn't enough of an issue, it would seem, to get people on the road on a daily basis and the office itself is still not enough of a draw.

A major roadblock to re-filling offices is that road-trip. Once the no-commute-genie was out of the bottle, it’s been very hard to put back. People are asking themselves if the cost and inconvenience of the commute is worth it. It’s a delicate balance, but employers need to question if the office experience is commute worthy for their employees.

The office as functioning eco-system is the new reality. It must be authentic, offer genuinely positive experiences, social interaction, combine a variety of flexible workspaces and provide energy to those inhabiting it. It must deliver more than the sum of its parts. There are a number of questions bosses need to consider when thinking about their workspace.

  • Does it fulfil the need for sociability and team-bonding those under-35s crave?
    • Are there spaces specifically designed for social interaction?
    • Do the acoustics in the office allow for noisier areas where people can talk freely?
    • Are there break-out areas with the sort of furnishings conducive to relaxing social interaction: office hospitality.
  • Does it provide the wellness benefits provided by biophilic design, acoustics, thermal comfort for everyone and natural airflow?
    • Biophilic design has been proven to deliver wellness benefits as well as improved productivity and creativity. It includes obvious natural elements such as plants and natural materials, naturalistic airflow, and natural light but also more abstract characteristics such as aspect and refuge that are often overlooked and yet potentially more powerful.
    • The provision of acoustic treatments can help dampen the extraneous noise that hampers focus and concentration – and allows for non-disruptive socialising.
  • Does your workplace have designated spaces for collaboration, focus and task working?
    • Focus and task work are two areas that employees may legitimately assess they are better served doing from home. You need to recognise the environment required to allow a continuation of at-home benefits.
  • Does it deliver on that undefinable feeling of homeliness we’ve become so connected with – offering the “office-home” alternative to the home office?
    • Think about your own home: comfortable furnishings, a range of lighting, well-equipped kitchen, outdoor space when the sun's out. Does your office offer some or all of these things?
    • Also consider the psychological aspect of home vs office working. It's an undefinable feeling, maybe of protection and refguge, but somehow try to deliver on that feeling in the workspace.
  • Do you offer the flexibility everyone loves when working from home?
    • Can employees take a break whenever they need?
    • Can they start once they’ve done their morning gym session, or finish early to grab the kids from school?
    • Is hybrid working an easy option for all employees?
  • Does your furniture offer the adaptability needed to flex when needed towards varying work needs?
    • Have you considered future needs: business growth, diversification, more employees?
    • Can you quickly adapt a space for collaboration, team meetings, focus work or formal presentations?
    • Are you able to multipurpose rooms or spaces depending on changing needs?
    • Can you open up or close down spaces easily, without disruption?
  • Do you offer your employees options around the commute itself?
    • Provision of facilities to help employees take sustainable transport options, such as showers, gear lockers, bike storage etc.
    • Free or subsidised parking spots
    • Subsidised public transport or the ability to change hours for off-peak travel.
  • Do you have the tech in place to allow a seamless experience for employees wherever they happen to be working from?
Talk to us if you'd like help making your office commute-worthy using our range of biophilic, acoustic, focus and collaborative furnishings and lighting