Rising energy bills: How to prepare for employees returning to the office

by | Sep 5, 2022

In just a few months, the world of work will have taken a largely remote turn three years ago. Employees have held more power since the ‘Great Resignation’, seeking flexibility, a greater sense of purpose and belonging, and a better work/life balance in their roles.

However, with the rising cost of living seeing an increase in energy costs, businesses may see employees slowly start making their way back to the office in order to save on increased bills, raising the question of its sustainability.

For businesses who value having an office culture, or would like to implement one or improve theirs, today’s blog will discuss:

  1. What rising energy bills mean for remote workers
  2. The rediscovered benefits of office working
  3. Creating a working environment that is built to last

1. Rising energy bills: What are the costs of home working?

No longer needing to commute for several hours a week, catching up on household chores, and spending quality time with family were all perks of working from home. With inflation hitting a new 40-year high at 10.1% in the UK, home workers are projected to be back at the office this winter in order to save on costs.

According to The Telegraph, “an employee would need to earn £900 more a year to afford working from home”, as experts reveal that home working adds an extra £209 per month to “already soaring energy bills”.

Employees who work from home frequently will likely find a solution in going into the office more often to save on energy bills from less usage of gas and electricity.

2. Rediscovering office benefits: The perks of office working

While employees can save money by returning to offices or spending more time in coworking spaces or office buildings for work, businesses can find opportunities to not only better understand their employees by seeing what they need, but retaining them.

A workplace ecosystem is a concept that creates a dynamic network of spaces and environments where the employees feel engaged and supported both digitally and physically. To improve the employee experience, businesses need to start by creating the right environment that suits different needs.

Employee benefits from business facilities

Ensuring that employees have their basic needs covered so that they do not need to seek alternative solutions assists in making an environment more comfortable. Businesses can provide classic in-office benefits like fruit and hot drinks and pay for gym memberships, but stepping up in lifestyle perks can create a greater bond between colleagues who might not normally work together. To boost benefits and use of facilities, consider offering perks such as:

  • Lunchtime or post-work personal trainer and/or yoga instructor
  • Access to the building’s shower facilities for those who cycle to work or enjoy early workouts
  • Daily breakfasts, and/or weekly lunches
  • Lunch-and-learns to combine the necessity of eating with an opportunity to upskill
  • Childcare flexibility for when parents need extra leniency to go to appointments or rearrange meetings

Technology and tools to work smarter, not harder

Making employees’ lives easier also translates into workplace tools. They might have all the basic needs to work from home, but some people are limited when it comes to technology and using their own tools which might stop functioning or need repair.

Smart workplace technologies have been introduced to significantly improve experiences in the office. Taking advantage of in-office tools, such as booking meeting rooms and being able to use unified communications systems, can lessen the workload and make processes and collaboration a lot more efficient:

  • Offices have tools to help staff stay on track and not get distracted by doorbells due to packages, family members or children appearing on screen, and more
  • The more employees can achieve at the office, the less they have to think about the work when they sign off
  • Working from the office makes life easier to compartmentalize when you don’t have to worry about taking your work laptop home with you, or switching it off when your remote office is in your home.
  • Employees can order parcels straight to the office, and easily collect their personal deliveries at their schedule with office lockers.

Improved connections, communication and collaboration

Having good communication is crucial and having more people around to provide real-time feedback helps create a two-way conversation between employees and their employers to have a better overall work relationship.

According to Microsoft’s 2022 Future of Work Report, “Remote work has influenced the way people collaborate in organizations, resulting in denser connections within groups and weaker connections across groups. These effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the organizational network.”

The trend also reported that hybrid work can be of help to break the ice in creating connections, however, with costs of living becoming more expensive, improved connections and collaboration may be a new result as more people start going into the office regularly. Building and maintaining relationships will become easier, as “the social side of workplace relationships, including exchanges of non-work-related information, social support and even small talk, is a particularly influential role in building trust and fostering innovation.”

people collaborating in and office

3. Creating a collaborative space built to last

People returning to the office will be a new challenge as many are sure to question the sustainability of it all – which is why modernising your office space with a redesign that serves a purpose can help further facilitate trust in the organisation to put its people first and continue to provide a good employee experience outside of the home.

Space is a big factor in comfort, and some people have limited room to work in their homes compared to the office. From having to share common spaces, dealing with thin walls, or experiencing excessive background noise, it’s important to prioritise the workplace experience and employee wellbeing to show staff that they can easily focus while thriving in the same space as others, as well as streamline manual processes.

Before applying common solutions for collaborative space, it’s equally important to understand how the space is being used and what expectations employees have. Centralised platforms for resources and digital tools and virtual self-service reception kiosks for faster processes and resource booking are two great ways to create a collaborative office space that will adapt to employee needs.

Summary

Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of physical workplaces. The cost of working from home might be increasing, but businesses can find a sustainable solution for hybrid workers to enjoy attending the office by:

  • Understanding how the space is used and what employees will expect
  • Creating an environment where employees genuinely enjoy working in, can be productive, and feel heard
  • Providing employees with the technology and tools that they need to thrive
  • Building trust and fostering face-to-face collaboration through teamwork

Further reading

  1. What is a human-centric workplace?
  2. 6 invisible initiatives to achieve workplace sustainability
  3. Technology and people: The key to unlocking better office security

Interested in how Vpod can help you create a better workplace experience? Contact us

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