Come to the office as you like.

January 2024

The question on the minds of HR managers and property managers alike is: how can we ensure that not everyone comes at the same time (often Tuesday and Thursday), and how can we get people to come to the site on Fridays? The actions taken are mainly aimed at making the sites more attractive on Fridays: attractively-priced catering, events and so on.

By Marc Bertier, Kardham Workplace Expert, published on the Focus RH website.

These actions are producing definite results, but without solving the fundamental problem: why do we all come at the same time? And all this in the knowledge that coming to the office on a Friday often proves to be a winning bet: smooth, fast transport, available workstations and meeting rooms, no over-frequentation of the canteen, etc. But there's a risk of seeing no one. Quite the opposite of many a Tuesday or Thursday (peak days), when transport times are longer, access to workspaces requires real organization and, in some cases, generates real stress. But we all see each other.

Good reasons to come together

The rationale behind office occupancy is not just one of functional comfort. They also have to do with socio-dynamics and the understanding of individual and collective rationalities. Game theory, in particular as presented by Nobel Prize winner Thomas Schelling, provides a few keys to this understanding. This theory assumes that individuals act rationally according to their particular situation. They also modulate their choices according to their degree of tolerance. In other words, the fact that crowds are concentrated on Tuesdays indicates that individuals prefer to be all together with a lower level of functional comfort than in sub-groups with a higher level of functional comfort. Or that they really do prefer to telework on Wednesdays and/or Fridays, even if it means having to put up with degraded conditions on the other days. Symmetrically, those who can't stand the conditions on Tuesdays are also often those who praise the virtues of Fridays.

When the arrival of one influences that of the other

What motivates people to come at the same time? Numerous surveys suggest that it's the opportunity to work with others and socialize. These two elements provide a logical explanation for the Tuesday peaks. Jacques comes because he has a team meeting to attend. He takes the opportunity to have lunch with Isabelle from another department, whom he hasn't seen for a long time. And Isabelle seeks to "make the most" of her visit to Jacques by organizing meetings with others, who will in turn do the same. This is what Thomas Schelling calls the macro-effects of micro-decisions. Or, in everyday language, the snowball effect. One person's arrival leads to another's arrival. The most nomadic employees are a good illustration of this phenomenon: in search of reconnection when they come to the office, they are rarely present on Fridays - even though they are more rarely in external appointments than on other days. In addition to spillover effects and daytime preferences for telecommuting, simultaneous presence on the same days can be explained by well-documented cognitive mechanisms: the fear of missing out (or FOMO) or proximity bias. Some studies show a correlation between office presence and career development for certain profiles.

Managers are the "super-influencers" of the future

These logics work in a free world where objective, shared information exists. However, such a world does not exist. Within an organization, certain individuals generate more motivation to attend than others. The presence of management, particularly top management, is a more important reason for coming than others. Our surveys show that they are often the most present on site (and that they are often all absent at the same time). They are powerful initiators of attendance, as they create meetings and are points of attraction for some. They also simply have the ability to impose attendance at certain times. In this respect, it is interesting to note that few managers impose a Friday meeting, which shows that power is not only in their camp. In fact, some managers require their employees to choose a day of telecommuting pleasure (Wednesday or Friday) combined with another day (Monday, Tuesday or Thursday).

3 ways to make your work environment conducive to telecommuting

As designers of work environments, our role is to design spaces that go hand in hand with these observations and enable "free coming", or at least rational coming from the employee's point of view and efficient for the organization. The first line of thinking is the right dimensioning of the need, which is achieved by aligning a managerial policy (days of presence) with an HR policy (organization of teleworking) and a real estate policy (quality and quantity of spaces). The second area of qualification concerns the transcription of needs into uses. This involves thinking about both the use of spaces (and in particular the issues of multi-use) and their intensification (optimizing the occupation of spaces and controlling the impact of work environments). Finally, digital technology, and in particular predictive venue solutions, is a powerful ally in the management of these new environments, enabling us to imagine innovative scenarios for differentiated space use.

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Nathalie Neyret

Nathalie Neyret

Head of Marketing & Communication

+33 6 37 68 50 99