Our back (or not back) to office plan – the results of our staff survey

14th March 2022

Last year I wrote an article on the future of work and discussed whether we at Secret Source would ever return to the office. Whilst I didn’t have the answer at the time, the article concluded with this paragraph …

Over the next few months we’ll be speaking to every person in our company individually (not in groups and with a person they feel safe being honest with) to find out what they want, we’ll keep our office open to those that want to come in and we’ll make it as welcoming as we can. And when we know what our team wants we’ll make a plan.

Well, we’ve now interviewed everyone in the company and, with Covid restrictions looking like they’ll be relaxed very soon we’re ready to roll out our back to office plan.

The results:

  • 89% are happy working from home and have all the right equipment and space to do it
  • 5% want to return to the office full time
  • 95% want to continue working from home
  • 5% want to work full time at home
  • 95% want to come back to the office occasionally

Staff comments included …

  • “I’d like to have a nice setup in the office with 2 screens”
  • “More social events please, I love the lunches with my team”
  • “How about a Thursday breakfast for everyone?”
  • “Background noise is an issue for me. How about a small office for our team?”

So, while not everyone agrees on the way forward, it’s clear that our team don’t want to come back to the office full time, however it’s also clear they miss the office environment and want to come back. But … there are concerns, will they be as productive in the office? Will it be too noisy? So what do we do?

Perhaps the most important takeaway we had from our survey was that everyone has different needs, some want to come in in the morning, some want to come in 3-4 days a week and some just want to come in for the social events, so one rule won’t work for everyone.

As a management team we also want to make sure we keep our culture and that we maintain those strong personal bonds that we’ve developed over the years. We don’t yet feel we are ready to adapt a fully remote model. The research on wellbeing and mental health still indicates that personal interaction is so important, and that is something we don’t want to ignore.

Back to office or WFH?

So what have we decided …

  1. Everyone is free to do what they want – we are not going to oblige anyone to work remotely or work from the office if they don’t want to.
  2. We will make each workspace the best we can – If one of our team wants to come into the office more than 2 days a week we will adapt their workspace to how they want it. Whether it is supplying two 32” screens and a laptop stand, installing a huge wide angle screen or building a small office, we’ll adapt each space to how each person wants it.
  3. We will have more in-person events – team breakfasts on Thursdays, project team lunches, after-work barbecues and more tech talks are just some of the ideas. Over the last couple of years we’ve found that remote social events didn’t really work for us, yet we had a wonderful time at our fifth anniversary party and our Christmas party and we want to repeat that experience more often.

We understand that everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so we’re not going to force anyone to work in a way they don’t feel comfortable. Everyone will have a choice where they work every day. However, wherever they choose to work, whether it is at home and / or in the office we will make it the best workspace it can be. We also still believe in the importance of real human contact, even in this increasingly more digital world, so we plan to hold regular events to give everyone the opportunity to really get to know each other and build those friendships that are difficult to build online.

If you’re interested in knowing more about our study or about working at Secret Source please feel free to get in contact with [email protected].