The migration of workers back to the office has begun, slowly but surely. It’s called The Great Return.

A new poll shows 50% of companies want their workers back five days a week. But many workers have a different idea. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 22% of the workforce will remain remote into 2025. Those returning to work prefer to ease into full-time office work over a period of time, starting with hybrid work (a combination of remote and in-person) before committing to being onsite full-time.

How are bosses successfully luring and transitioning workers back to the office? Here are the top six motivators:

  1. Sparkling offices. Employers realize that ultra-clean offices, maintained by professional commercial cleaning companies, are a strong draw for returning workers. In fact, recent studies show that 94% of workers report feeling more productive in a clean workspace. Cleanliness (in offices, conference rooms, bathrooms, and reception areas) makes workers feel welcome and motivated. In fact, a clean office is one factor in employee mental and physical health.
  2. Celebrating togetherness. After almost two years of isolation and Zoom meetings, workers say they enjoy the personal connections when being together at the work setting. A 2021 Cushman & Wakefield study said that workers are looking for collaboration, a connection to company culture and visible leadership. Some workers also said they appreciate the change of scenery by finally getting out of the house.
  3. Enjoying the “perks.” Just like the old days, returning employees like the ease of running errands during lunch and catching up with work friends. Returning workers already are starting to populate lunch spots and retail stores during breaks. Good bosses understand this value and promote break time.
  4. Remaining open to flex. Employers are more successful in calling workers back into the office if they adopt flex time. Workers can decide to work early or late shifts, as long as they are together in the middle of the day. This flex work schedule spreads commutes and reduces traffic snarls, making getting to the office and back home less of a hassle.
  5. Financial incentives. With low unemployment, management knows they have to bump up wages or offer promotions or financial incentives to keep employees from moving to a different job. As a condition of these promotions, managers are encouraging more face time onsite.
  6. Aggressive hiring and training. Especially in industries where there are staff shortages and overworked employees, such as in healthcare and air travel, workers must be onsite fulltime. In return, they expect to be rewarded with higher wages, job training, promotions, perks, flextime and other incentives.

Non-work issues are also holding employees back from returning to work. They must overcome lifestyle conveniences of working from home: no commutes, no new work clothes and no adjustments for caring for children after school.

Despite these challenges, The Great Return to office work is gaining steam, especially when employers offer a combination of these six incentives.