Fostering In-Office Collaboration
Conversations around remote versus in-person collaboration continue to evolve. While remote work offers flexibility, there’s a growing recognition of the positive impact of in-person interactions on employee well-being.

At XYPRO, we like to plan ahead. Pre-pandemic, we had a lot of people in the office every day, and we had many activities, gatherings, and social events. Post-pandemic, we missed it. A lot. We wanted to find ways to encourage in-person participation without mandating a full-time return to the office. Our business is Cybersecurity Software and the majority of our team members are engineers. As we discovered during the pandemic – pretty darn good at being productive while working remotely.

Since reopening the office, the number of employees regularly coming in has reduced. During the pandemic, We hired more remote team members, some moved away and became remote, and there wasn’t really a reliable pattern of who was coming in on which days. This knowledge was important to us because employee surveys showed real enjoyment and appreciation for the effort our team makes to gather with purpose.

What we also wanted to plan for was lunch! We decided that every time we had at least 10 people in the office, we would bring in lunch for everyone. Our newly hired office administrator was sometimes running a relay race to ensure everyone who came in that day was fed – the hit-and-miss nature of this approach was more stressful than it needed to be.

What we didn’t have was consistency.
So, at the suggestion of our new Development Manager, XYPRO began using Slack Polly Polls to better prepare for who will be in the office on specific days. The amazing side effect of this public poll is that it has influenced team members to prioritize in-office work, promoting not only productivity but also mental health and camaraderie. The opportunity for face-to-face interactions fosters a sense of connection and belonging that is difficult to replicate remotely. Regular attendance has really increased in a consistent manner in a regular and reliable pattern.

In other words, when people see others coming into the office, they want to be there too! We use this regularity to plan special events, team building, Happy Hours etc.

Daniel Ranchpar, Intern – Development, shared, “Speaking from the perspective of someone that rarely goes to the office due to distance and other factors, it is nice having the poll because every once in a while, I do get the opportunity to go to the office and can look at it. I guess it’s kind of “introvert-friendly” because you can see if people you know are planning on going on a certain day and be further encouraged to go because of that. Before the poll, it was more up in the air, and we usually made group chats for certain planned days and other occasions.”

The social aspect of in-person work plays a pivotal role in fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment and for mentoring junior team members. From spontaneous hallway conversations to team lunches, these informal interactions contribute to a sense of camaraderie and belonging that is vital for employee morale and mental health. The importance of these social connections has helped create a workplace culture where XYPRO team members feel valued, supported, free to speak, and understood.

Hagop Tanashian, Engineer I – Development (former Intern),  told us, “The Slack/Polly Poll has definitely encouraged me to come into the office more. I can easily see who else is coming in and am excited to show up knowing my coworkers will be there. When working from the office, I’ve been able to create stronger relationships with everybody at XYPRO, especially my teammates. This has helped foster cohesion amongst my team and makes working with them easy.”

Our efforts to encourage more in-person interaction have had some wonderful side effects. XYPRO Team members have created a “Walking Club” and a “Running Club.” The clubs engage in the use of apps like Strava to create group challenges. Others have set up after-hours get-togethers, which further increases camaraderie.

Josue Sanchez, Intern Development, provided this valuable perspective, “I believe that the Slack/Polly Poll has been a great tool that can encourage team members to work in person. Seeing others commit to in-person workdays can motivate others to join, which creates a more collaborative work environment. From my personal experience, working from the office is especially beneficial to newcomers; it is a great way for them to build relationships and learn directly from others. This was the idea behind starting the Walking Club – creating opportunities for people from various departments in the company to meet, interact, and converse with one another while doing an activity that is non-work related. Building these relationships in a non-pressure, non-work setting will make it easier to communicate about work-related topics when the pressure is on. The better we communicate, the more productive and cohesive we become. Therefore, having and partaking in these opportunities to build relationships is key, and this is only possible if people work from the office.”

Fostering Communication
In addition to the mental and physical health benefits, in-person collaboration promotes clearer communication and faster decision-making, leading to increased efficiency and productivity. Polly Polls allow us the advantages of in-office interactions, which can empower employees to embrace a hybrid work model that prioritizes both flexibility and well-being.

Gabriel Mourad, Engineer IQuality, “My thoughts when it comes to having a poll for people to input the days they are coming into the office/are just working remotely have been really positive and a great feature for the culture of our company! Having visibility, not only allows people to express their preferences (which allows them to take action more frequently), but also accountability. The office has lent itself well, for me personally, when it comes to the professional and social environment. Events, such as lunch breaks, walking outside, or even small talks in the office, allow a better working environment and I’ve seen myself more successful.”

Karina Mara, Intern – Accounting remarked, “Polly poll has been great, and I think it’s beneficial in keeping our lines of communication or systems connected and consistent in some way. It’s always great to maximize the features available with the applications we already have. As for its purpose, I think it’s a great way to garner more attention and engagement with slack, which as you mentioned, helped with encouraging team members to work in person. I noticed a lot more coming into the office and even seeing the confirmed number of people motivates me even more. It makes going in person more fun and exciting, especially seeing everyone else come in and do their work. It’s a great opportunity to meet others and engage in insightful conversations both professionally and personally! As an intern, it’s helped me really understand and learn more about the company, which I’ve been so fortunate to be able to do. It also helps me have a more tangible idea of what’s going on, be it within the company or with our products.”

In conclusion, organizations can create a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being and fosters a sense of belonging. By using technologies (like Slack Polly Polls) you can encourage employees to embrace the office environment for its positive impact on mental health and camaraderie.

You can unlock new levels of productivity, satisfaction, and success without a mandated return-to-office policy.