Teem
January 7th, 2022

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New Rules for Creating Workplace Happiness

Tomorrow happened yesterday.

For every workplace decision you make right now, the future of your workplace is being reshaped and set in motion. But, with no clearly defined end in sight and ongoing concerns to address — including the surging Omicron variant — it's important to make sure you don't miss any important pieces while you're crafting your return to work plan.

We've compiled some of the most critical considerations for workplace leaders to keep in mind as you juggle all the moving parts of your organization's re-entry. From sorting out new work models, adjusting floor plans to implement flexible seating arrangements, to receiving the insights that will allow you to adapt to changes in real-time — we've got you covered.

Keep reading for key considerations that can have a major impact on the success of your return to work plan in 2022.

Addressing a wider range of employee needs

1. Support more flexible ways of using the workplace

Flexibility and autonomy are being used as company recruitment tools, and for good reason. According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs, 95% of those surveyed said they believed a flexible job would likely make them a happier person in general.

With all of the distractions people face today, people don't have the time to wander around in search of a safely distanced workstation, or search the office for available rooms.  In a pandemic era that has been filled with strict shutdowns and limitations, people are looking forward to having the freedom to curate their own unique office experience.

After almost two years of being stuck in their homes, employees understand the value of face-to-face communication. But they aren't willing to give up the flexibility that remote work offered, either. What people really want is for employers to give them the ability to do both. To make that work, give your workforce tools for simple scheduling, easy booking, and all-in-one management of their desk and room reservations.

You can support employees by giving them the freedom of choice as they journey back into the workplace. By having the ability to choose their seat and plan their workweek ahead of time, it will be easier for people to find suitable space for any experience. With the ability to explore what's available now or at a future time, it's also easier for employees to plan ahead and coordinate their schedules without any hassle.

2. Inform employees of healthy ergonomic practices

After stay-at-home guidance was issued early last year, one survey from the American Chiropractic Association showed 92% of chiropractors reported their patients were reporting more neck pain, back pain, or other musculoskeletal issues. Since working in certain seating positions is known to result in neck, back, hip, and knee pain, employees can benefit from having ergonomics awareness training that helps them identify ergonomic risk factors and correct their posture.

Among the issues that can be easily addressed, according to a 2020 University of Cincinnati study: Adjustable desk chairs set to heights that are too low and seats that lack proper lumbar support. Slightly more than 50% of participants had desk chairs with armrests, but the majority went unused.

As people begin transitioning back into life in the physical work environment after a prolonged period of time working from home, there's a potential risk for injury for anyone who has experienced less activity during the time spent at home. According to Scott Bautch, President of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, it's a good idea to set timers to remind you to take breaks and move. Another tip: Encourage your employees to take frequent breaks from sitting at their desks while they're working from the office.

Measuring the total impact of your return to work plan

This time two years ago, nearly 70% of CEOs in KPMG's CEO Outlook survey reported they were planning to reduce their corporate real estate footprint. Compare that to the results last year where only 21% of CEOs said they were going to cut down on their office space or had plans to do so. In fact, half of the CEOs who responded to this year's survey have indicated they were considering increasing their investments in shared office space.

With so many factors being considered, evaluated, and reconsidered, do you feel prepared for planning to return to work? And — once you do reopen your workplace — will you be able to measure the total impact of your return strategy? If your return to work plan is not well-aligned with the current state of the corporate office, you risk falling behind.

After an especially disruptive year that led to a rise in employee burnout, a new meaning of work-life balance, and the so-called "great resignation", the winds of change are blowing through the office and revolutionizing the way we work. In fact, when discussing how companies will use their corporate real estate differently post-COVID-19, many defining characteristics of the “future of work” are already here.

3. How to implement a return to work plan when facing budgetary restrictions

Workplace leaders feel an urgency to do act quickly. But with all business spending under major scrutiny,  they're under immense pressure to do more with less.

It might feel tempting to go back to using more traditional methods of improving your space usage, especially when having to contend with strict budgetary restrictions and an uncertain future. However, you should be wary of addressing employees' current needs with pre-pandemic solutions that may no longer be in tune with modern ways of working.

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been a sweeping reform of previously-held beliefs that many company leaders had about remote working arrangements. After a prolonged experiment that proved working from home could be done, the perspective that employees have about the meaning of the office has shifted — and so have the expectations they have for their employers.

For their part, workplace leaders seem to be both aware of the signs and responsive to indications signaling a move toward greater flexibility when it comes to the future of work. Despite ongoing budget constraints, 69% of IT and workplace leaders surveyed earlier this year said that creating a positive employee experience was the primary driver of technology decisions following COVID-19.

Investing in technology that's focused on enhancing the experience employees have in your workplace can make a significant impact on their engagement in the office as well as their in-office productivity.

When you look at the benefits of implementing a user-friendly space booking tool, for instance, it adds value to both individual employees and the organization overall. Workers are able to find the right workspace at the right time, which helps cut down on what they see as frustrating drains on their time. Because they see the value of using the tool and benefit from its use, the likely result is higher end-user adoption rates which gives decision-makers in the company more data that can be used to inform important decisions — such as whether to reconfigure, right size, or cut down on specific space types.

4. How to identify cost-savings opportunities and cut spending

Flexibility is the touchstone of the modern workplace. While one major challenge that facilities teams will face going forward will be maximizing the utilization of the space available in the flexible workplace, that has to be balanced with empowering people to enjoy using the office. That means having the ability to identify poorly used spaces and eliminating sources of waste — for instance, being able to see and eliminate the Ghost and Zombie Meetings that are preventing your employees from fully utilizing available office space.

In addition to those challenges, another thing leaders must address when adopting a flexible workplace is ensuring that the office has the optimal amount of space types to support the wide range of requirements introduced by a hybrid work model.

Because having a hybrid or flexible workforce is likely to cause fluctuation in the demand of your office space, agility and flexibility are necessary components of successfully planning to return to work. Gaining perspective in a meaningful way will allow leaders to get a leg up on the competition, enabling them to iterate and evolve to change in real-time.

Not only will you need to be careful not to overshoot the demand for space, you also need to ensure your office has the optimal amount of space to accommodate everyone planning on working from the office at any given time. Ultimately, to future-proof your workplace strategy, what leaders need is the ability to match employee demand for space with what can actually be delivered. That includes all of the digital tools, physical resources, and types of available space that your workforce needs to be productive.

5. Monitoring and managing your  gradual return to work plan

For best results, inform all of your strategic decisions with accurate and timely data. Using a modern workplace insights solution, for example, leaders should be able to access information from easily digestible dashboards and reports that they can customize and automate. That way, they're able to draw on a more complete understanding of everything happening in the workplace and be able to leverage that information to determine their best available option.

With disconnected solutions and siloed databases, leaders are left with splintered views and isolated data points that can be tedious to sift through. If, on the other hand, your analytics tool combines a depth of data collected from the various workplace systems and apps you use into a single platform, it's easier to analyze all the parts as a whole. That way, leaders can lean on the full context of their available workplace data and analyze it intelligently.

Enterprise systems that are easily integrated with the other solutions your organization uses will expand the ability to aggregate data across multiple areas of the workplace, which will make it even easier to strategically cut spending and identify more opportunities for reducing your operating expenses.

With modern technology that can notify them when it's time to modify their current course of action based on real-time conditions and forecasting trends, workplace leaders will be better positioned to keep their employees engaged while they continue reaching to achieve their company's long-term goals.

Putting a fresh spin on your return to work plan

Digital tools have made a mark on daily life, improving everything from how people order their groceries to how easily they can stay in touch with their family, friends, colleagues, and networks.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, businesses accelerated digital transformation efforts in order to support remote work and keep operations afloat. The lasting implications on workplace experience will continue to unfold and take shape in the months and years ahead, as more and more organizations begin to put their return to work plan into motion.

6. Get ready for employee apps to be everything

The pandemic exposed many gaps that existed between the physical and digital aspects of the workplace experience.

Modern forms of workplace flexibility lend themselves to encouraging autonomy, balance, and preparation. Luckily, mobile employee experience apps are relevant to the needs of today's distributed, mobile-first, on-demand workforce. From booking a desk and scheduling a meeting to inviting their clients into the office and locating their coworkers, mobile workplace apps are the key to simplifying the tasks employees do every day.

Mobile workplace apps are replacing years of legacy systems — particularly the ones that are poorly integrated and have clunky interfaces. Because of their easy accessibility, they help modern on-the-go professionals accomplish previously time-consuming tasks more efficiently and give them more time to actually be present and fully engage with work. More efficient ways of interacting with the space mean people can spend more time enjoying what your workplace has to offer.

7. Scope out solutions for your return to office plan in 2022

How can technology be used to improve the way we work in the post-pandemic office?

A lot of time and effort has gone into planning to return to work. Now, you need to make sure you have the right tools in place to keep everyone safe and help employees use your office effectively — especially in the new hybrid work environment. Better space utilization, simplified desk and room booking, and increased office security is within reach with Teem by iOFFICE's return-to-office solutions.

In a day and age where your employees feel over-extended, give them confidence in your return to work plans. Space booking software gives employees the ability to discover options, explore availability, and save their seats.

Start planning to return to work with help from Teem by iOFFICE's return-to-office Starter Kit. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Teem

Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.

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