Commentary

Create a Workplace That Makes No One Want to Work From Home

Ask any employee in the workplace today and they’ll probably tell you that they crave the freedom and flexibility that comes from telecommuting, or more commonly known as “working from home.” 

Having the option to do their job in the comfort of their own home can make employees feel trusted and respected. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working from home is becoming a growing trend. 23% of U.S. workers do at least some of their work from home, and 3.3 million U.S. workers are currently full time telecommuters. 

However, telecommuting brings with it a whole slew of obstacles that demand your attention, such as young children, pets, household chores, and more. Almost half of U.S. professionals admit to a lag in productivity due to working from home. 

I fully believe that nothing kills collaboration and productivity more than a disengaged employee. The work-from-home model is not conducive for ad agencies - it doesn’t offer the culture, community and knowledge transfer needed for employees to be successful. Here are three ways agencies can foster greater creativity and innovation by encouraging employees to work from the office. 

Break the Paradigm Around the Office 

The first step is to put to rest the idea that an individual’s office, cube or workstation is the only place employees can get 100% of their work accomplished. By having a workspace that acts as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation it encourages employees to want to work from the office. For peak creative performance, it has been found that a balance of focus and collaboration time is key. Suggest quiet zones in the morning and encourage collaboration in the afternoon to help your team get over the afternoon hump!  Feeding off of others energy is a proven method to wake up your brain. 

Match Physical Context with Mental Context

Just like different rooms in your house provide an environment for different activities, your office can be structured the same way to spur on great productivity and creativity. Every employee has a different work mode; they need a place to have collisions with teammates, but they also need a place to have visual and auditory silence. Open spaces can put introverts on edge as well as lack the privacy that is sometimes needed for extroverts to stay focused. While working from home may provide one setting that a person needs to be optimally productive for a day, it ultimately cannot provide all of them. Your office needs to provide workspaces for literally every work-mode that modern employees need to be successful. 

Stage “Collisions” 

An in-office work environment can help bolster creativity. When employees actually work in the office, they are easily more available to each other - common spaces lead to “collisions” between employees and teammates. Employees have the chance to discuss what their needs are or simply gain more ideas and viewpoints from their peers when they come in contact during these collisions. Being surrounded by inspiring and creative people while in a shared space can lead your team to more creative thinking. 

At redpepper, we conducted heavy research before building our new space. Our findings led us to realize the benefits of a collaborative work environment where knowledge can be transferred physically and creativity can thrive. While I’m aware that many job seekers and millennials in particular look for work-from-home policies when seeking new employment, I am a firm believer that company culture and productivity suffers when WFH policies pull employees away from the workplace. As agencies, we can't put the company cultures we work so hard to establish on the back burner by allowing employees to regularly work outside of the office. Focus should be on culture first, people second, and clients third-- when we take our eyes off of the culture, our people, and ultimately our clients, suffer. But when the workplace is thoughtfully and intentionally crafted with the employee in mind, the employee benefits from the culture and ultimately produces better work for their clients. 

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