Employees making the return-to-office journey walking up a set of steps to a building.
Image: © uflypro/Stock.adobe.com

How employee data can inform the return-to-office movement

8 Nov 2023

A report by Eptura shows that employers need to listen more to employees about what they want for the return-to-office movement to work.

New research by US ‘worktech’ company Eptura examines how leaders are leveraging data to help them make their return-to-office decisions. The main objective of the report was to explore how leaders and employees alike are handling the return to office. In recent months, reports of companies like Apple and Zoom mandating their staff to come back to a physical office for a set number of days per week have caused consternation – particularly among flexible working proponents. On the other side of the debate, some leaders believe workers are more productive in the office and they also want staff to use the offices they have invested in.

Eptura’s findings are based on an analysis of a representative sample from 16,000 of its customer companies as well as two surveys conducted by independent research firms. The first survey was conducted on 4,885 employees from the US, Canada, the UK, France, Singapore and Australia. All of these workers said they go into the office on occasion at the very least. The second survey that informs the report was carried out on 90 senior leaders from the US and the UK.

According to the figures, office occupancy is a major concern for many managers globally. Almost three-quarters (74pc) of operational leaders said they are reporting to their CEOs on office occupancy metrics at least on a quarterly basis, while 40pc are reporting monthly.

But while leaders are concerned about occupancy levels, they cannot discount their employees’ concerns on the return-to-office issue. When the employees Eptura surveyed were asked what would make them want to use their workplace more, 45pc said they wanted more social areas like cafes and outdoor spaces. Just over one-third (34pc) said they wanted more recreational areas like pool tables and 38pc said they would like better tech tools for collaborating with teammates.

Comparing the attitudes of both the employees and the leaders Eptura surveyed, it’s clear that there is some overlap in terms of common goals for the office. However, if leaders want staff to come into the office they are going to have to make it worth their while. They also have to listen more to their staff; Eptura’s data revealed that only 24pc of leaders consider employee feedback the most when they measure the performance of their workplace.

“It is clear CEOs need to have access to the right mix of data on workspace usage, employee behavioural patterns and feedback to decide the strategy that will best meet employee needs as well as business goals,” said Brandon Holden, CEO of Eptura. “The reality is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy and CEO motivations for these mandates can vary from issues of productivity to generating opportunities for in-person mentorship and team building,”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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