There’s a lot of debate surrounding return-to-office (RTO) policies, hybrid vs. fully remote, and hybrid vs. fully in-person. Regardless of the stance your company takes, it’s important to ensure that any in-office days are purposeful and productive.
How To Maximize Your In-Office Days
Hybrid working arrangements are intended to combine the benefits of remote and in-person work.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), 73% of workers need more reason to return to work than company expectations alone. The top reasons employees are motivated to spend time in-office include:
- 85%: Bonding with their team
- 84%: Socializing with colleagues
- 74%: Spending time with work friends
- 73%: Interacting with direct team members
Many companies respond to this need for socialization by organizing elaborate buffets or hiring DJs to provide entertainment. Ultimately, these steps often fall short, since many employees don’t view a free lunch as adequate compensation for a long commute.
The question then becomes how do you practice purposeful onsite gatherings that lead to meaningful interactions?
Here are seven ways you can maximize your in-office days, as well as practical, actionable experiences that can help you succeed.
1. Build Connection and Inclusion
Since team bonding is one of the top motivators of returning to the office, it’s important to provide opportunities for connection and inclusion.
Building connection while your team is in-person can improve your team’s sense of camaraderie during virtual days.
To facilitate this connection, consider hosting a team-building experience designed to foster feelings of connection and trust.
Teamraderie has a wide range of experiences designed to bolster connection and inclusion, one of which is our whiskey experience, Discover Whiskey Through the Untold Story of Nearest Green. Your team will be guided through the story of Nathan “Nearest” Green, an enslaved man whose story resulted in the most awarded whiskey brand in the world.
Our experiences are perfect for hybrid organizations since they’re accessible to both virtual and in-person team members. This means that if your team can choose which days they come in, they still have the chance to participate remotely.
2. Focus on Collaboration
One of the main challenges of hybrid work is the “faultlines” that can develop between workers who are in-person and those who are working virtually. When employees select which days they want to work in-office and which to work remotely, virtual workers often miss small conversations and decisions that are made by their in-person colleagues.
It’s a good idea to prioritize collaborative tasks for in-office tasks, and tackle independent responsibilities during remote days. Focusing on collaboration while you’re in-person with your team is a good use of your time.
Facilitating a team bonding experience is a good way to align virtual and in-person colleagues. Teamraderie’s NASCAR experience helps your team improve their collaboration and adopt mindsets of flexibility. In this experience, led by NASCAR’s first pit crew coach, Andy Papathanassiuo, your team will learn how pit crews balance speed and accuracy to achieve success, and how to apply those lessons to your workplace.
3. Express Appreciation and Recognition
Showing your team that you appreciate them has been demonstrated to:
- Boost morale
- Improve wellbeing
- Heighten intrinsic motivation
- Increase feelings of belonging
- Help employees feel more valued
- Reduce sickness absences
Hybrid and remote work has increased the difficulty of providing this positive feedback, however, since it’s easier to recognize and appreciate what can be directly observed. For this reason, it’s important to be intentional about providing recognition.
In-office days are an excellent time to show employees appreciation. Teamraderie’s Digital Card Game To Recognize Team Strengths can help you facilitate this positive feedback, allowing you to not only recognize your team members but also provide a platform for them to show appreciation for one another.
This experience can be completed whether you’re in-office or remote, but in-person participants have the additional benefit of easily continuing the conversation following the experience.
4. Enjoy a Beverage Together
For many workers, a top perk of working from the office is the beverages. WFH employees miss out on the opportunity to grab a coffee or tea with a coworker, taking a brief social break from work to consume the drink.
In response to RTO policies, however, many hybrid employees participate in “coffee badging,” which is the practice of showing up to the office in order to grab a coffee and fulfill the in-person requirements, and leave shortly after. Approximately 60% of hybrid workers have admitted to this practice.
While a positive corporate culture, emphasis on psychological safety, and flexibility can combat this practice, it’s also a good idea to use coffee breaks as an opportunity to help your team connect with one another instead of a way to protest a company policy.
For hybrid offices, these experiences have the added benefit of allowing you to include virtual team members, giving them the same chance to connect over a cup of coffee as in-person colleagues.
5. Build Team Alignment
Following the widespread adoption of remote work post-pandemic, there was a fragmentation of team alignment for many organizations. According to HBR, this fragmentation wasn’t the direct result of virtual work, but instead due to a lack of intentionality in connecting teams from different departments or regions.
Business leaders hoping to capitalize on in-office days should consider using them to rebuild cross-functional—or even internal—cohesion and alignment.
If you’re struggling to determine how to accomplish this, Teamraderie has several experiences that can help you in this regard.
- The Priority Puzzle: Led by Tina Paterson, founder of Outcomes Over Hours, this experience helps your team establish team norms and reach alignment by learning how to overcome competing priorities.
- Embed Agility in Teamwork: Led by Olympian gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, this experience helps your team learn actionable steps for staying focused and preparing effectively.
In addition to helping your teams align, these experiences can open the door to important conversations that can improve your team’s communication and cohesion.
6. Schedule Your Time Effectively
Setting and sticking to a clear schedule is one of the most important ways to keep yourself on track and maximize productivity. Depending on how much control you have over your schedule, it’s also an effective way to take advantage of in-office days.
Make sure you schedule your time in a way that best works for you. Take note of:
- Which tasks are easier to complete in-person
- Which tasks are easier to complete virtually
- Which team members your in-office schedule overlaps with
- What times in the day you feel most motivated
Effective scheduling is an excellent way to maximize the benefits of in-office and remote work. If you’re in charge of your team’s schedule, consider asking them which tasks they find easier to complete in-office, and when they feel the most productive in the day. Use the information they provide to schedule their time.
If you’re searching for ways to improve your team’s productivity, our Amplify Productivity experience can help you harness your team’s energy and learn what your sources of energy are. Led by Tina Paterson, founder of Outcomes Over Hours, your team will learn how to work smarter instead of harder.
7. Conduct a Team Refresh
Regardless of how long your team has been working together, it’s a good idea to routinely conduct a team refresh.
This refresh is an opportunity to identify and subtract existing practices that aren’t productive, as well as establishing new team norms to improve performance.
Our team refresh experience can help facilitate this interaction. Led by Stanford Professor Kathryn Velcich, this virtual interactive workshop will help your team eliminate energy depleting activities and find new ways to improve your productivity.
Improve Your In-Office Days With Teamraderie
One of the best ways to maximize your in-office days is to leverage Teamraderie’s extensive experiences. Each virtual experience is perfect for in-office and remote workers alike, and can help you connect your team regardless of their location.
Teamraderie experiences incorporate peer-reviewed university research about how to help a team connect. They prompt your team to reflect and share the “why” behind their work, which has resulted in teams feeling more than 70% higher sense of purpose and meaning.