The conversation has shifted for organizations with a remote or hybrid workforce. Instead of planning off-site work events to break routine with office life, companies are now planning on-site meetings so their employees can interact face-to-face and get a break from working virtually.
Today, we’re sharing some intentional reasons you may want to bring your team on-site, along with a few tips for making it worthwhile for your organization and employees.
8 Good reasons to host employee on-sites
1. To hold important meetings
Let’s start with the most obvious reason to bring employees together face-to-face: for meetings. We’ve learned that being in the same room isn’t essential, but it does bring an X factor into conversations that’s hard to replicate over Zoom. Live meetings are especially beneficial for employees who feel more energized when they’re with others.
One of the most important types of meetings to hold live are presentations. Giving presenters the opportunity to share findings or ideas in-person brings greater significance to the task and makes it easier for the rest of the group to share honest feedback.
Other meetings that can benefit from being scheduled at the office:
- Project meetings – Get the right stakeholders together.
- Leadership development sessions – Create an opportunity to share best practices.
- Team-building activities – Develop trust in fun, interactive ways.
- Strategy meetings – Focus on a unique issue, discuss quarterly business goals, or connect as a group to problem-solve and set intentions.
- Recurring meetings – Utilize regularly scheduled one-on-one, team or department gatherings as an opportunity to catch up in person, whether at pre-determined intervals or when it makes sense.
2. To spark new ideas
Remote work without periodic on-site workdays may hamper your team’s ability to innovate. This could be due to the “results only” dynamic that can crop up in virtual environments, not to mention its tendency to limit your employees’ access to their weak ties.
And weak ties (a term popularized by sociologist Mark Granovetter) in this case are the colleagues from your employees’ outer circles with whom they may not interact much – if at all – while working from home. Research has demonstrated that even these distant work connections matter because weak ties bring us new information, opportunities and ideas that we might not get from our immediate circles.
When results become the main focus, we sometimes lose touch with the “why” and the “how” behind the work we deliver, and we don’t spend much time sharing or refining with our colleagues.
To that end, sparking an organic flow of ideas and encouraging innovation can be convincing reasons to regularly bring a wide range of teams and people together into the same workspace on the same day.
3. To lessen feelings of isolation and Zoom fatigue
Although most employees want to work from home whenever possible, this sought-after scenario doesn’t come without a few drawbacks, including isolation and Zoom fatigue.
In virtual work, Zoom or other videoconferencing is the great gatekeeper to personal connection with coworkers. Scheduled interactions tax us in subtle ways that spontaneous interactions avoid. Remote employees must choose between working alone and burdening colleagues with a pre-arranged conversation, a tension that can take a toll on mental health.
If you are able to bring teams into the same office regularly, it can greatly reduce some of the negative impacts of remote work.
4. To strengthen personal connections
In-person work time can deliver much of what your employees might miss about the days before they worked from home, creating relaxed time and space for:
- Office banter
- Connecting with colleagues
- Building trust
This is also why it’s important not to overpack the agenda on an on-site workday. Incorporate break time between meetings as much as possible. Plan some meeting-free work time as well. You could even book a food truck at lunch so employees have more reason to linger and spend time together during a longer break.
Having a healthy mix of scheduled and flexible time at the office will help you make these days feel purposeful, while also not squandering the opportunity to strengthen social connections among your employees.
5. To provide informal access to management
Manager office hours, or times when your management team will be available and not called away to meetings, can be really beneficial when you bring your employees on-site. This creates space for more informal interactions, particularly moments when employees know they can approach and get informal face time with their managers.
You can build manager office hours into employee on-site “work-from-work” days by not filling up all the required on-site hours with meetings or other planned activities.
6. To provide access to tools or technology that’s only available at the office
Sometimes workplaces provide technology or equipment that simply can’t be distributed to each employee’s home office. Periodically bringing people in for access to these resources can be a necessary part of your empoyee on-site strategy.
For reasons like this one, you may occasionally bring only one team on-site at a time. If it doesn’t make sense to call in a larger group, it would be better to hold off until there’s more rationale (than to bring people in without a clear agenda, just for the sake of gathering).
7. To give employees perspective on on-sites for the long term
Having some sense of how often they will convene with their coworkers in person can be helpful for remote employees. If you can say with certainty that everyone will be coming on-site weekly, monthly or quarterly, make it a set expectation.
This can help stabilize the employee experience for virtual teams, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their commutes, home office environments and caregiving arrangements. It also helps them more accurately decide if a role offers them the right balance of independent, flexible time and coworker face time to suit their personal preferences.
8. To engage in the culture of your organization
Working together strengthens your company culture, and this is reason enough to regularly bring employees on-site. When you are in the same workspace, your employees can more easily recognize:
- What your organization values
- What attitudes you encourage
- How you handle challenges
- How your leaders feel about the work they do
Remote teams gathering in-person when they regularly only see each other online can naturally heighten the experience, encouraging everyone to put their best foot forward. If regularly coming on-site is possible for your employees, your organizational culture may be stronger for it.
Summing it all up
While there are definitely ways to make employee on-site days more meaningful and productive for everyone, at the end of the day knowing why you’re coming together is more important than exactly how you do it.
Which of the reasons we’ve shared here will you prioritize on your team’s next on-site workday?
If you’d like more information on how to set up a truly effective organizational culture, download our complimentary magazine: The Insperity guide to company culture.