The cat's out of the bag: Work can be accomplished at other places besides the office.
Now that people have tried working from home, many like it so much they don't want to return to office life, creating a dilemma for employers who have reasons for wanting staff to come back in. But how does a boss motivate rather than force workers to come back?
If you're Elon Musk, you build a plant where wild horses roam free and promote this controversial activity as an employee perk. Did it work? And how can a mere mortal employer compete with the Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) giant's ideas?
In an Instagram post that's been deleted, Musk promoted his horse idea to get workers to come to his new Nevada factory -- a battery plant -- so enormous that, once completed, might become the largest building in the world with an expected 6-million-square-foot footprint (equal to 126 football fields). When you count the levels, (and we do count the levels) the factory is expected to have an estimated 10- to 15-million square feet of space. Sort of mind-boggling.
The Instagram post read, "Come work at the biggest & most advanced factory on Earth! Located by a river near the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains with wild horses roaming free." And the call to action: "Join our Gigafactory team tesla.com …"
It kind of backfired
Using wild horses to promote the benefits of the area sounds attractive. The problem is erecting a monstrously huge "gigafactory" right in the middle of horse country might not be the best thing for the horses, and that means an environmentalist backlash on the horizon. Horse advocates say this encroachment and the human traffic it will cause creates bad conditions for wild horses.
Better ways to attract workers
Rather than exploit and possibly damage wildlife, more down-to-earth employers offer realistic types of incentives to get workers back. Here are some.
Designed to be a respite for people to get away from a possibly chaotic home, offices are offering really nice amenities: things like fitness centers to get you moving after being stationary at a desk for a while, outdoor terraces to let you recharge and get your thoughts in order, fancy restaurants to ensure you eat well, and plenty of socializing opportunity. These amenities show employees the office is a good option.
To compensate parents who must return to the office, some companies offer to cover childcare costs or offer a childcare center on-premises. This is huge since many workers who must pay for childcare might figure it's not worth it to work.
Money for transportation
One of the biggest perks of working from home is not commuting. The U.S. Census Bureau found that on average, a one-way commute takes almost half an hour. That’s an hour a day wasted, of which employees aren't being compensated. So some companies are at least reimbursing workers their transportation costs, including parking.
The tried and true method of offering more money usually works as an incentive, so some companies offer a sort of "back-to-the-office financial bonus," reports TechRepublic.
Stocked pantries, furnished eating areas, and free meal delivery are being tried so that workers can have a more relaxing lunch than battling other workers going to lunch at the same time in area restaurants.
FOMO (fear of missing out)
Some offices are making it sound so fun to be there by creating experiences, they're hoping employees won't want to miss out. Mario Kart Monday and Waffle Wednesday are two ideas being offered by one company.
The Millionacres bottom line
As people became accustomed to working from home during the coronavirus, they not only found many perks to the lifestyle but also discovered their overall health might have improved by having a better work/life balance. So to compete with that, some employers are stepping up their game to lure employees back; it's always preferable to lure than force, after all.
While Elon Musk gets credit for creativity, the wild horse idea was not well thought out. But other ideas, such as an elevated work environment, are worth evaluating. Investors might want to direct their money toward businesses that do this well.