Businesses need to heed employee bounce in hybrid workplace

Workplace tech firm releases study showing how firms are grappling with the depth and breadth of the return-to-office process and unveils new platform to help enable an effective hybrid workplace

Just as businesses gear up for a model of working that will see a percentage of staff return to the office, research from tech firm Robin has revealed that nearly 15% of global employees who went back into their office once have never returned.

As it revealed the results of its study – based on analyses of millions of real-life desk and office bookings from employees in Australia and New Zealand and, by way of comparison, the US – the hybrid workplace platform provider quoted research from PwC that highlighted the importance of the corporate office in 2021.

Just 13% of executives said they were going to let go of their office for good. That trend is mainly because 87% of employees said they regarded their office as essential for collaborating with team members and building relationships with IT, facilities and other workplace leaders.

This led to the primary challenge facing firms of creating what Robin called an “exceptional” employee workplace experience that instilled confidence in workers and helped them perform at their best.

The survey revealing the 15% employee bounce rate did not offer specific insights into why they didn’t come back, but the tech firm said it was reasonable to assume that employees did not feel comfortable with their office at that time. It added that the results found in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) provided a window into the future for North America.

Based on its data, Robin calculated that ANZ employees were about three months ahead of North America and that most ANZ employees go into the office an average of two days a week. If this trend continued, North American employees would start returning to the office twice a week in April, it said.

The majority of ANZ workers came into the office early in the week – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – then worked from home in greater numbers at the end of the week. The average conference room was booked twice a day for about 1.5 hours out of an eight-hour workday.

However, Robin cautioned that despite the positive data, the ANZ region was not fully back to normal because only 20% of businesses had their entire workforce back in the office full-time.

By contrast, Robin predicted a slow, uneven return to the office in North America compared with office workers in ANZ as well as those in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions, who have been are returning to the office at a much higher rate than North America since October 2020.

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Tuesday was North American employees’ favourite day to work in the office, followed by Monday and Wednesday. The states of Florida, Virginia and North Carolina were seeing the return of the most people to the office in early 2021 and, despite removing all Covid restrictions in early March, Texas ranked just 13th among all states for people working in the office.

The Lone Star state ranked one spot behind Massachusetts, which has executed a much more systematic reopening plan. Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio were the states with the fewest people coming into the office.

As it was releasing the survey, Robin also announced a new platform, Office Pass, which it said would enable workplace leaders’ return-to-office (RTO) strategies. The platform includes employee-centric tools such as a mobile app and interactive office maps in order to removes the friction and uncertainty associated with an office return.

Office Pass also gives IT real-time insights to optimise office floorspace to workplace teams to understand and manage space inventory, from meeting room booking permissions to office seating charts and desk reservations, helping to facilitate productivity and collaboration.

Robin sees the new platform as helping forward-thinking businesses transition through the inversion of the traditional office model and reshape their workplace based on employees’ needs.

“Businesses grappling with the depth and breadth of the RTO process use our platform to uncover deep insights that help them shape their workplace to enable an effective hybrid workplace that maximises their employees’ productivity,” said Brian Muse, the company’s CTO.

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