Overcome employee resistance to returning to the office

A recent survey conducted by Appspace has revealed that employees aren’t just pushing back against returning to the office because of long commutes or a desire for more flexibility. The in-office experience still has significant room for improvement. As one of the world’s leading experts in hybrid and remote work lauded as the “Office Whisperer” by The New York Times, I can attest that an important focus of my work for clients involves attracting employees to the office through optimizing the office environment for employee satisfaction and productivity.

Survey Says: In-Office Experience Needs an Upgrade

Appspace’s 2023 Workplace Experience Trends & Insights Report surveyed 800 employees and 100 IT managers from various U.S. organizations with over 1,000 employees. The results were clear: 93% of respondents who work from the office believe their organization could do more to enhance the in-office experience.

When employees were asked to rank the most necessary office improvements, the top priority was providing “consistent and simultaneous communications to all employees,” regardless of their work location. This beat out “providing more flexibility on hybrid and remote work options” by a considerable margin. Additional training on workplace technology and reducing the number of apps required for their jobs ranked third and fourth on employees’ wish lists.

The Social Factor: Millennials and Gen Xers Crave Connection

The survey also found that younger employees, particularly millennials (93%), are more likely to factor in whether their colleagues will be at the office when deciding whether to go in. This suggests that the social aspect of work remains a significant consideration for the younger generation. Moreover, 78% of millennials, compared to 35% of Baby Boomers, agreed they waste time transitioning from working remotely to working in the traditional office setting.

In this digital age, with an array of virtual communication tools at our disposal, one might assume that the younger generation would be content with virtual interactions. However, the survey results suggest that in-person connections are still highly valued. Building and maintaining strong relationships with colleagues is essential for collaboration, innovation, and overall job satisfaction.

The survey results suggest Marc Benioff and Mark Zuckerberg have a valid point when they speak of getting younger employees into the office more often for the sake of learning and mentoring. That’s why I work with clients to ensure effective mentoring programs, and we find that senior employees have much less resentment over coming to the office to mentor as part of a program than as part of a vague “mentoring by osmosis” modality.

Tech Disconnect: Performance and Connectivity Hindered by Legacy Solutions

According to the report, organizations are investing in technology to improve hybrid and return-to-office workplace experiences. However, legacy solutions and an overemphasis on improving efficiency are preventing gains in performance and social connectivity.

Appspace CEO, Tony DiBenedetto, notes that “winning organizations will take this a step further and use technology to simplify the workplace experience, improve productivity, and make the traditional office more appealing.”

As organizations navigate the hybrid work model, it’s crucial to identify and implement technology solutions that foster seamless collaboration and communication, regardless of employees’ physical locations. By simplifying the workplace experience and investing in tools that support employee engagement and productivity, organizations can create a more appealing in-office environment.

Challenges of Remote Work: Feeling Connected and Engaged

For employees working remotely, 79% experienced at least one of the following challenges:

  • Feeling connected and engaged with their work
  • Finding a sense of belonging and culture at their company
  • Feeling a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers
  • Inclusion in virtual meetings, email, or messaging conversations

These challenges highlight the importance of fostering a sense of community and belonging within an organization, regardless of employees’ work locations. By addressing these concerns, companies can create a more inclusive and engaging work environment for all employees.

Communication Breakdown: The Need for Faster, More Efficient Information Sharing

The survey also revealed that important news doesn’t always travel fast, with only 29% of respondents hearing about company news within minutes and nearly one-third reporting it takes days or even longer to receive critical information.

In the age of instant communication, this delay in information sharing can have a detrimental impact on employee engagement and overall company performance. Ensuring that all employees are kept in the loop and have access to critical information in a timely manner is essential for maintaining a cohesive and informed workforce.

Organizations must prioritize implementing communication strategies and tools that cater to both in-office and remote employees. This will help bridge the information gap and ensure that everyone stays updated on important company news and developments.

The Path to Streamlining IT Office Experiences

Mike Hicks, Appspace’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains that “the number one problem [with employees’ workplace tools] is that not everyone uses the same technologies.” This fact underscores the need for tech consolidation to streamline IT office experiences and generate cost savings.

Organizations should consider conducting an audit of their current technology stack to identify redundancies and opportunities for consolidation. By streamlining the tools used by employees, companies can minimize confusion, enhance collaboration, and potentially reduce costs.

The Power of Office Design: Creating a Space That Inspires and Motivates

An often-overlooked aspect of the in-office experience is the physical environment itself. Companies should invest in office design that promotes creativity, collaboration, and well-being. This includes creating spaces that cater to different work styles and preferences, such as quiet areas for focused work, communal spaces for collaboration, and comfortable break rooms for relaxation and informal conversations.

Additionally, incorporating elements of biophilic design, such as natural light, plants, and access to outdoor spaces, can have a positive impact on employee well-being and productivity. By creating a visually appealing and functional work environment, organizations can make the office a place where employees genuinely want to be.

Transforming the Workplace for the Better

The Appspace survey highlights the need for organizations to rethink the in-office experience and invest in technology that fosters seamless communication, connection, and collaboration among employees. It’s time to turn the traditional office into a destination where employees feel engaged, connected, and productive. By focusing on improving the in-office experience, organizations can create an environment that appeals to employees across generations and work styles, ensuring a thriving, future-proof workplace.

I advise my clients that they have the responsibility to recognize and address the concerns of our employees when it comes to the in-office experience. By acknowledging the shortcomings of the current office environment and taking proactive steps to address these issues, they can create a workplace that is more engaging, inclusive, and productive for all employees.

You need to conduct regular employee surveys and feedback sessions to better understand the specific needs and preferences of your workforce. Use this valuable information to implement targeted improvements that will have a tangible impact on employee satisfaction and performance.


The Appspace survey provides a valuable roadmap for organizations looking to create a more engaging and effective in-office experience. By prioritizing seamless communication, investing in technology that supports collaboration, creating a physical environment that inspires and motivates, and fostering a sense of belonging for all employees, we can transform the traditional office into a space that supports the needs of a modern, diverse workforce.

Key Take-Away

Organizations must address employees’ concerns and improve the in-office experience through better communication, technology, office design, and inclusivity…>Click to tweet

Image credit: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on May 13, 2023