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Employee Engagement and Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed our lives and what we deem as necessary. Within a matter of months, we have quickly realized just how much of our jobs can actually be carried out online and at home. For many businesses, a remote workforce is the new norm. But for those returning to work, the office can be a thriving think tank rather than just a stale cohort of cubicles. This article highlights 5 ways to motivate a return to the office through employee engagement and sustainability. This will ultimately drive productivity and help in attaining your company’s green goals.

1. Treat Your Office as a Rallying Hub

Getting motivated to return to the office may be as simple as changing our perception of what purpose the office serves. It’s time to dismantle the view of the office as a stagnant space where labor is repetitive and employees are disconnected.

Treat your office as a “rallying hub” for employees to gather and collaborate on meaningful projects. Employees who are given a higher purpose and the chance to connect with their colleagues will often be more productive and engaged in their work. Cultivate a green culture that employees are excited to be a part of. This involves encouraging open communication, making goal attainment meaningful and fun, and having active leadership from supervisors and executives.

2. Offer a Hybrid Work Schedule

Offering a hybrid work schedule in which employees have the option to work a few days at home and a few days onsite helps break up the monotony of work life. If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that anything is possible and giving your employees more options to best suit their preferred work style is key to employee satisfaction. Further, the hybrid approach offers both the environmental benefits of reduced commuting as well as the positive social impact that interacting with peers has on workers.

3. Change the Dress Code to Business Casual

For those who learned to love wearing sweatpants in their home office every day, it may be hard to transition back to normal work attire. If applicable, consider changing your dress code from formal to business casual. A less strict dress code not only allows employees to wear clothes that they feel comfortable and confident in, but it also supports self expression and facilitates creative thinking. According to studies, 61% of employees are more productive under a relaxed dress code while 80% of employees don’t find dress codes useful.

As an added bonus, ditching the suit-and-tie environment eliminates the need for dry cleaning which consumes great quantities of energy and water and often requires toxic chemicals.

4. Encourage Coworking Spaces

Harvard Business Review defines coworking spaces as, “membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting.”

Unlike work-from-home or traditional office settings, coworking or shared workspaces cater to all types of work styles depending on employees’ attention spans, motivation levels and general output.

Rethink the layout of your office to include quiet zones for the easily distracted and interactive spaces for the socially motivated. Working alongside peers in a shared workspace often facilitates accountability and inspires employees to get tasks done. This can be a major boost for your green team, allowing them to collaborate freely and drive your sustainability program.

5. Add Biophilic Elements to the Work Environment

Creating healthy, happy workspaces help nourish employees’ mental and physical health, keeping them feeling good and focused. From green walls and natural light to scenic window views, incorporating biophilic elements can transform any work environment into a place of wellness and productivity.

Additionally, biophilic design supports community and global sustainability by minimizing resource consumption and supporting the regenerative properties of nature (i.e. resource efficiency, air purification, biodiversity).

CONCLUSION

Getting back in the office in some capacity can actually help your sustainability mission by encouraging creativity and collaboration, supporting employees’ health and work style, and serving as a place of purpose rather than just mundane tasks and stale projects. To motivate your staff to return to the office, consider adopting some or all of these 5 initiatives around employee engagement and sustainability:

  1. Treat Your Office as a Rallying Hub
  2. Offer a Hybrid Work Schedule
  3. Change the Dress Code to Business Casual
  4. Encourage Coworking Spaces
  5. Add Biophilic Elements to the Work Environment

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