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What Proximity Really Means to Today's Workforce

By Vickey Li | October 20, 2022

What Proximity Really Means to Today's Workforce

In our last article, Location, Location, Location, we talked about people being at the forefront of every company’s location strategy. It’s not enough to look at just costs and the company bottom line — today location has taken on a new meaning: It’s all about proximity to your people. But, what does proximity really mean to today’s workforce and how are companies adapting? 

In a world where everything is just a touch of a button away, proximity to your employees takes on a whole new meaning. Today, you can get a ride with Uber or Lyft with a few simple clicks. You can have any meal you’d like delivered to your doorstep on demand. You can watch any movie or show you want on demand. You can even shop to your heart’s content without ever stepping foot outside your home. Staying “close” and “connected” has taken on a new virtual dimension. It’s no longer just about physical space. 

According to a survey conducted by HR Dive, from a group of 510 employers, 70% plan to adopt a hybrid work model while only 20% will return to a predominantly office based model. These findings not only show where things are going but are also largely a response to the 98% of employees who want to continue working from home or having the option of working remotely. It’s no surprise that in the age of digital connectivity when everything is in the palm of your hands, that employees no longer feel like commuting 2 hours back and forth to an office in the city every day. 

Today, proximity to your employees feels more like giving them the option of coming together and collaborating in a nearby space while also staying connected with them and keeping them engaged while working from home. So how do you maintain proximity and keep engagement strong? 

Here are some ways we like to stay close, connected and engaged no matter where we are: 

  1. Drop-in Meetings & Office Hours Instead of requiring employees to be in an office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week — managers and leaders today can set aside time for employees to drop into a satellite office or catch up for coffee. This is a great way to get some IRL time. You can also set up virtual drop-in times when folks can hop into a zoom room for a quick 15-30 minutes and chat about anything that’s on their mind.

  2. Live Working Sessions With tools like Jamboard available to anyone with a computer, you can even do things like whiteboard virtually, together. To keep your remote employees connected during a brainstorm session, using virtual tools can be great! Live working sessions are also a great way to bring together folks in and outside offices — to work together and feel a sense of community and collaboration (which we know is super important for retention!)

  3. Call Your CoWorkers Many of us have become so accustomed to Slack conversations and emails when it comes to communicating with our colleagues. But we know that many employees report screen fatigue and sometimes, it’s nice to just get a call from a friend. In a study done by RingCentral, employees who came to rely on phone calls found that they enjoyed it more than they would. Calls can foster close relationships and a sense of quick comfort while also achieving the same result as having a conversation on your screen.

  4. Let Work Go Wherever You Are If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that companies can not only survive but thrive in a remote work environment. Employees are happier, more fulfilled, productive and feel a stronger sense of work-life balance when “work” is right there in the next room, or at a corner coffee shop. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s critical that your employees feel equipped to work from wherever they are. Be sure to set your team up with the right tools and devices so they can be successful no matter where they’re working from. 

As companies make the shift to more flexible working models, it’s also important for us to re-examine what that really means. Whether you’re predominantly in an office, remote, or a little of both — your employees need to feel close and connected to the business. That’s the only way you’ll keep them around in the long haul.  While there are definitely a slew of challenges that come with this wave of changes, it is absolutely possible to remain connected and relevant no matter your working environment.


For more content about the future of work, check out some of our other articles on veeryoffices.com/blog or follow us on social media @veeryoffices.  


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