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5 Ways Offices Have Tried Convincing Employees to Come Back

Office occupancy is still nowhere near its pre-pandemic levels. Employers are navigating a complex landscape to get their staff back in the office as office workers have made it known that they prefer to work at home in some capacity. If companies really want their employees to return to in-person work, they need to incentivize coming to the office. Some companies like Google have gone as far as to lower the pay of workers that don’t come into the office. Other companies have preferred to use the carrot, giving perks and coordinating in-office events. Some of these tactics have worked well, others…not so much. 

Here are 5 strange tactics companies have wielded to get their employees out of their home offices: 


(Image by Ranurte: Unsplash)

When Google called its Bay Area employees back to the office in April, the tech giant decided that equipping its workforce with electric scooters would ease the transition. 

Google teamed up with Unagi, an electric scooter startup, to create a program that offered Google’s employees a reimbursed subscription to Unagi’s Model One scooter. The scooters, which cost $990 and reach the lightning-fast top speed of 20 mph, were offered to ease the pain of an employee’s commute… presumably from the bus stop as Google famously offers free shuttle buses to its Silicon Valley employees.

Pedal-powered smoothies

When online food delivery company Deliveroo mandated that their employees return to the office three days a week, they offered a myriad of perks to ease the blow. 

Employees shuffled back to Deliveroo’s office to what Kirsty Seaborne, the company’s head of people, called “a bit of fun.” To get their employee’s jazzed to come back, Deliveroo offered an eased dress code, free breakfast, massages, and… smoothie bikes. Yes, you read that right, thanks to this innovation, employees could enjoy the novelty of physically churning their own drink via a stationary bike instead of simply pressing a button on a blender.

Virtual Golf 

Investment management firm Nuveen offered the employees in their midtown Manhattan office building putting practice in order to get them out of their home offices and into the building. Instead of employees having to go outside to enjoy a round of golf, Nuveen installed a virtual golf range that can help improve their golf swing by analyzing a player’s golf swings via built-in sensors. 

In an already amenity-loaded building, Nuveen hoped that employees would be interested in virtual golf as a means to bond with their co-workers and enjoy a bit of the great indoors. 

A whole Tesla

(Image credit: Vlad Tchompalov Unsplash)

Few firms owe as much to commercial offices as the commercial property data company CoStar. To support the office, they hosted a raffle to lure their employees off the couch. Raffle prizes included an array of gift cards, an all-expenses paid trip to Barbados, and even a cash prize of $10,000. But if all that wasn’t enough, employees also had a chance to win an electric Model S Tesla.

“Yes, this is a lot of money, but in the context of a multibillion-dollar company with thousands of staff and hundreds of offices, it’s a drop in the bucket,” said CoStar Group CEO Chief Executive Andrew Florance. “So you can have some fun, you can incentivize people to do the right thing.”

Tone-deaf welcome signs

(Image credit: Audra Williams)

This strategy did not go over well

Toronto-based real estate investment firm Toronto Properties Oxford Properties decided to try humor to bring their employees back. Unfortunately, Oxford Properties missed the punchline. 

Employees were greeted with signs that essentially mocked them. The signs, all part of Oxford Properties called the “Welcome Back” campaign, were more successful at encouraging resentment from employees than a willingness to return to work.

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