Over the first few months of 2022, COVID restrictions across Australia have gradually eased; indoor mask rules have relaxed, along with limits on the number of people at indoor venues and work from home orders have been scrapped. However, the flipside of this is that organisations are now faced with the task of enticing their employees back into the office. After long stints of mandatory working from home, and countless survey results over the last year claiming staff are resistant to return to the office full time, organisations are having to grapple with the challenge of bringing their team together in the one physical space. It has made many question why we come to the workplace in the first place and if physical office spaces are becoming redundant.
Many HR leaders have said that this new phase of work can be considered an opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate their purpose and develop an ‘office value proposition’; a way to outline and communicate to your stakeholders the benefits your physical workplace provides. Similarly, to an ‘employee value proposition’ which aims to define the experience of working at your organisation, an office or workplace value proposition represents the organisational culture, benefits and interactions employees experience – specifically when working on-site. Consequently, today we explore what makes a good workplace value proposition and how organisations can effectively communicate this to their stakeholders, primarily their employees.
Before starting to develop an office value proposition, it’s important that the organisation in question has determined how it can actually accommodate employees returning to the office. For some organisations, having people returning all at once might not be feasible. Consequently, organisations need to ask themselves the following questions:
How can we bring people back safely?
Have you established procedures and protocols for everything that returning to the office includes – group interactions, cleaning, quarantining after travel or COVID, sick leave policies, etc.?
What is our hybrid work strategy?
Who will stay remote, who will be back on-site full time? Who will adopt a hybrid schedule (alternating days in the office and working from home) – and how will this all be determined?
Once these two questions have been answered and strategies have been developed, the ultimate question becomes: What is our workplace value proposition?
How do you get your team to want to work on-site? What does your workplace offer that enhances the employee experience?
The four C’s stand for Collaboration, Creativity, Connection, and Culture and they are important in regards to establishing an office value proposition as they each play a crucial role in how an organisation’s work environment brings value to each employee.
Some projects might mean solo work but collaboration is important for your team!
When employees have the chance to work together, everyone has the chance to show their creativity, problem-solving skills, and have their opinions heard. Working effectively with others – including those who do not have the same views as you is just part of being a team. The beauty of teamwork is that where you might lack the skills in a certain area, that could be one of your team member’s greatest strengths! Get your team involved and immersed in the work.
When team members are focused on their part of the project, team leaders can oversee other issues as they come up. As a leader, you need to trust in your team and trust their judgments when it comes to completing the task at hand!
In a collaborative work environment, your team members are more likely to stay with the company. Employees who feel valued by management are more likely to stay on board. Instill the confidence in your team that they are valued with collaborative work. They will feel valued by their teammates and team leaders thus ensuring they stay on board.
Try to host weekly brainstorm sessions. Working back in the office makes it easy for your team to get together, break into sub-groups, and tackle projects head-on. It’s nice to bounce ideas off one another during casual conversations and breaks.
Teams have been deprived of the spontaneous conversations and coffee talks in the office over the past year, now in-person work allows simultaneous idea-sharing. Therefore, it’s easier now for teams to get together and have a planning session. Creativity is defined as the ability to see what isn’t there yet and making your vision come to life.
It also boosts productivity. When leaders allow their team members to be creative and explore new ways to tackle projects, they enable productivity and creativity to co-exist in perfect harmony.
Ways that leaders foster an environment of creativity include diversifying the team and saying yes to more opportunities.
Diversify the team by bringing in a variety of perspectives, learning styles, and insights. Diverse teams create new ideas thanks to the different perspectives.
For instance, during brainstorming sessions, it might be easy to dismiss an idea or write it off. Be more open and encourage positive feedback. In other words, by saying yes to more things, your team will feel more comfortable contributing their ideas.
Creating an environment that encourages problem-solving, brainstorming sessions, and spontaneous conversation is also a way to get those creative juices flowing within your team.
One of the most important elements of a workplace is the environment and culture. A positive workplace culture requires effort from team leaders and members. In other words, your culture is the way your company lives its purpose and delivers the promise to clients. The culture creates a shared experience for team members. The culture has to be built on collective behaviours and values. Working together in the office can strengthen a sense of belonging and togetherness. It helps your team feel like they are part of something important.
Establish clear values for your team right from the beginning. It’s not enough to have the mission statement written on the wall! Actions that represent your company values and mission should be taken regularly.
A place where employees are valued and supported is a happy workplace. Above all, your team takes pride in their work, they will work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the company as a whole in the long run.
Company culture will attract and retain talented team members. Therefore, they will be dedicated to delivering the organization’s promise to customers.
Workers everywhere missed human connection as they sat in front of their computers talking to co-workers. Therefore, working back in the office means it’s time to create genuine connections among teams. As a team leader, it requires intentional effort.
Encourage connections and provide your team with opportunities to engage. For example, have a few meetings where the sole purpose is to connect and interact.
Plan social events on-site and encourage your team to engage with one another. When your workplace proposition highlights that you value connection and workplace friendships, you want your actions to reflect this. For example, host an event where the organization celebrates the successful contributions of teams and individual employees as well. This type of event would is a good time to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond.
Leaders must find time to connect with their team as well. Enhance your one-on-one meetings by moving the meetings to a casual location. Encourage your team members to be open with you and their teammates.
The team leader is responsible for bringing the workplace proposition to life! In other words, when you use four c’s, you will support your organization, help your team find how they work best, and create an enjoyable work experience for all involved. And especially when requesting particular employees back on-site it’s important to lean on the four c’s in order to highlight what each employee can gain from coming back into the office.