The Journey Back to Working in the Office

As we move into the autumn, more and more companies are considering whether or not to get employees back into the office. Whilst some have decided to continue with remote working, those who have not, have a new challenge ahead of them – how to persuade people to come back in?

This is where behavioural change techniques can help, and many companies are already employing its tactics (either knowingly or unknowingly).

COM-B Model – How to change behaviour?

One of our favourite behaviour change models is the COM-B model which states that in order for an individual to change their behaviour they need to have the capability, opportunity and motivation to do so. By using the COM-B model we can identify the key barriers preventing individuals from returning to the office and provide actionable recommendations on how to overcome them.

3 E Plan – Changing habits gradually

Another key model used to get employees back in the office is the 3 E plan which employs 3 different ways to try and change behaviour, starting with unconscious and subtle, progressing to conscious and more forceful:


The first stage, ‘Enable’, involves ensuring that the office is possible, and safe to return to. Actions to take at this stage include the measures we have come to expect during COVID-19, such as supplying hand sanitiser, spreading out the workspace to ensure there is 2 meters between people, regular cleaning of communal spaces, as well as more simplistic actions, such as making sure the office is easily accessible.

The second stage, ‘Encourage’, can be varied. For some offices this may just be offering tea and coffee in the morning, or organising more social events for employees, whereas for others this could be more extravagant. For example, we have seen some companies offering live music and hot air balloon rides during lunch breaks (lucky you if you get this level of encouragement).

The third stage is ‘Expect’. At this stage the company has decided to fully commit to having employees in the office and tells them as much, working on the premise that if you want to keep your job, you tend to meet your employers’ expectations.

To work best, this third stage should only be put forward once the first 2Es have had noticeable success, so that it does not necessitate too big a shift in behaviour.

Overall, there are a range of different strategies based on behavioural science that can be used to help the process of encouraging employees back to the office. Which techniques are you currently using and/or plan to use in the future?

For more information on behavioural science and behavioural change models please get in touch with a member of the behavioural science team.

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