Time to reconnect with the office?
One large Australian company is taking a creative approach to enticing staff back to the office.
A recent article or ours discussed the role of a physical office in a post-pandemic, hybrid-working world, and the challenges employers face in enticing staff to return. This ZDNet article gives a nice perspective on how the power balance has shifted towards employees. It quotes Airbnb chief Brian Chesky:
The office as we know it is over. The office has to do something a home can't do.
With that in mind, a story about the approach being taken by Telstra, Australia’s largest Telco (and my previous employer), caught my attention. Telstra have 30,000 staff, so what they are doing won’t be directly applicable to the average SME, but the issues they are seeking to address are pretty universal. Their O-Week idea may give you something to think about.
The AFR Article, “Telstra’s O-Week seeks to entice staff back to office” is behind a paywall, so for those who can’t easily access it, here are what I saw as the key points of interest.
As Telstra’s head of people, Alex Badenoch put it:
When we all left the office, we had an announcement and everyone packed up their stuff and moved out.
- Many of the staff who had joined over the past two years had never set foot in the office, been in a room with the CEO, or, in some cases, even worked in person with their boss.
- Telstra wanted a way to remind staff who were out of the habit of working in the office of the benefits of hybrid work.
They emphasize that they remain committed to flexibility:
We’re not anti-office or pro-office, we just want to embrace a world where people have choice. Because we don’t mandate days in the office, how do you mark a new moment in time?
Telstra’s answer is what they call “O-Week”, with rolling events to encourage staff to return to the office, if only for a day or two, and remind themselves of what they might be missing.
- The name is intended to mirror the sense of excitement, fun, and novelty associated with a University Orientation Week.
- Events include traditional welcome-to-country ceremonies, fireside chats with the chief executive, motivational speakers, daily door prizes, foyer expos, and free coffee.
To quote Alex Badenoch again:
…many people I talk to say, ‘I forgot how lovely it was to be with people'. This is a real opportunity to rediscover and reconnect with people and hopefully have some fun.