Office attendance changes with the seasons. Employers should take note

Office attendance changes with the seasons. Employers should take note

Photo: Morsa Images / Getty Images

Employers and employees are engaged in an ongoing power struggle over back-to-office policies in 2022, with research indicating that American hybrid workers went to the office more than one day a week during the first half of the year.

But now that the year is drawing to a close and economic uncertainty threatens the labor market, workers are changing their hybrid work habits. According to the third-quarter 2022 Robin Hybrid Workplace report, which specializes in workplace technology, office attendance is on the rise.

What is the reason for this increase? According to Robin, employees’ work habits change as the season changes — and it can provide an incentive for employers to adapt office policies to the time of year.

Robin’s study was based on aggregated data on more than 2.5 million office reservations from clients. The study found that cycles of office attendance are interspersed with seasonal declines during winter break, early summer, and again in late summer, which correlate with vacation time and major holidays.

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Employees travel to the office less often in the summer, when only 24% of office space is in use. They visit the office a little more often in October (27%), then travel more frequently to the office in early November (32%), before office use drops by nearly zero before Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Robin’s data indicated that office attendance was 10% in Q3 compared to Q2.

Robin’s co-founder, Zach Dunn, has argued that employers should use seasonal office attendance trends to inform mixed-work policies.

According to Dunn, current mixed return-to-office policies follow a weekly schedule that does not coordinate with staff schedules within the office. He told ZDNET that companies face busy seasons that require more collaborative efforts among employees, which is when employees tend to frequent the office.

“Businesses have busy and mixed seasons [work] It makes it more visible as more people show up in person to do collaborative work around it.”

Slow work seasons provide a good opportunity for leaders to review their workplace strategies, which can ensure minimal disruption to employees while also not forcing them to come to the office during a time that would not be productive or convenient for them.

“In a mixed team, you are more likely to prioritize work in the office when others can also, and when it supports the work you have to do,” Dunn said.

Also: Hybrid work: why more needs to be done to help women thrive

Europeans appear to be the biggest office users, with Robin data reporting a 30% increase in office use in the third quarter. They are also slightly more in the office than their US counterparts, averaging 5.5 days per month compared to 4.9.

In the first quarter of 2023, office attendance is expected to jump to 33%. But before employees return before the new year, Rubin suggested employers improve hybrid work policies for the new year.

Rubin said that in 2023 and beyond, leaders should focus on creating an office environment that fosters collaboration and creativity and strengthens employee relationships. This includes taking an “agile approach to hybrid work” that takes into account the types of spaces and facilities workers need to make the most of their time in the office and home. As such, employers should “consider changing spaces to fit activity-based layouts,” Rubin said.

Our ways of working are constantly changing, and it’s a good idea to stay open to changes in office policies. As reports continue to emerge, companies that falter in their ways and refuse to comply with workers’ needs risk losing out on top talent.

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