With the promise of more scheduling flexibility and better working conditions, an increasing number of employees are starting to see the upside of working from the office. But make no mistake: Nobody wants to step back into pre-pandemic office life. People expect something newer, fresher, and more in line with the cultural zeitgeist. That much is clear.
But what does that mean for your workplace strategy?
Keep reading as we walk you through the process of creating a strong workplace strategy and share five smart ways for repositioning the office as an exciting place to be.
When you hear "workplace strategy", you might picture an office building. But workplace strategy is about much more than just the physical space — as Deloitte puts it, "An efficient advanced workplace strategy integrates the key elements of physical space design, information technology (both infrastructure and devices), and effective HR policies to better enable work and increase operational efficiency."
A great workplace strategy is about reaching engagement and utilization goals and delivering value to the organization and individual employees.
In our e-book, Reinvigorating the Employee Experience, we explain that the employee experience is the sum of all interactions an employee has with their employer. Employee experience is influenced by the physical environment, the tools and technologies provided to them, and their employers commitment to their well-being and success.
If you break down the various parts of the employee journey, beginning with their arrival at the office and ending with their departure, it's easy to understand how this can drive success at both an individual and organizational level.
There's the physical environment: Conference rooms, huddle spaces, phone booths, individual offices, workstations, hot desks, community areas, and lobbies. Within each of those spaces you can find any number of people — visitors, employees, contractors, vendors, customers, etc. — passing through, hard at work, in the middle of a call, searching for someone, making their way to their next meeting, and engaging in small talk. In each of those spaces and all of those use-cases, the kiosks they use to check-in upon arrival, the mobile app they use to book a desk, and the digital signage with an interactive map.
When all of those factors are aligned, you get the most value out of your workplace because you're delivering the most value to your workforce. As that happens, the benefits start trickling in: Spaces and information are easily accessible, interactions become seamless, collaboration gets supercharged, people feel empowered and well-equipped, and future decisions are informed by meaningful data.
IT leaders who want to add the most value to their organizations should find solutions that provide in-depth workplace utilization data to help business leaders plan for what's next.
In a hybrid workplace, it takes real-time data and management to optimize your space and costs. Leaders will need to understand how employees are using their workplace so they are able to make adjustments to their space as needed. For example, they might consider converting unused rooms into additional shared desks after reviewing their desk and meeting room utilization data.
Are you worried about setting up a workplace strategy to win over stakeholders and gain buy-in? Here are some tips that can help.
Some things are easier to get done at home. Depending on their living situation and whether or not they have a private work area, employees might be able to finish certain tasks in less time with less interruptions outside of the office. And some things, like collaboration and team building, can be done offsite but are probably better suited for in-person environments.
According to Dan Ryan — co-founder and CEO of workplace analytics platform VergeSense — for every two desks in the office, you need to have a collaboration space. If engaging your employees is truly a goal you'd like to achieve, make sure you design your office based on how employees intend to use it while they're on site. Otherwise, you'll find that working from home is more appealing than coping with an inadequate office space.
And, as the world continues to merge beyond the physical space and into the digital realm, forward-thinking leaders know the important role workplace technology will play in automating the workday and enhancing the employee experience.
Take Teem's mobile employee experience app, for example. From desk booking and room scheduling that’s totally hands-free to wayfinding and getting notified when their visitors arrive, great technology helps offer a friendly and safe workplace experience where employees can thrive.
An increasingly distributed workforce and the adoption of hybrid work models are driving businesses to get mobile employee apps as they reopen their offices.
Just consider all of the technologies an employee already uses in a typical workday:
That's six interactions with digital tools — and all before lunch. Implementing employee-centric workplace technology is a great way to make sure those interactions are positive and don't add friction to the workday. Transforma Insights, a research firm focused on digital transformation, predict that the number of devices connected to the internet will grow from 7.6 billion in 2019 to 24.1 billion by 2030 — including sensors, smart phone apps, and wearable tech. At work — and the world at large — technological advancements focused on improving the user experience reflect the importance of end-users.
Plus, a mobile experience app can enable a more personalized approach to the workweek — and evidence shows the positive impact of employees having control over their own schedule. In fact, studies have indicated that perceived self-control can be beneficial for employee engagement and well-being.
You're looking for ways to achieve success in 2022, but that means you will need a new way to measure what that looks like. In a year where you need to work beyond your usual scope and have to cope with distribution and other major challenges, you don't have to worry about getting everything right the first time. There are too many unknowns to expect that. You do, however, need to have the capability to approach your workplace strategy with agility and intelligence.
We know that sometimes, when the stars line up just right, an unexpected circumstance can change everything for the better. It's often the moments sparked by variability and novelty that can lead us to growth, connection, and transformation. Of course, when it comes to leading an organization through one of the most disruptive and culturally significant moments in human history, a great outcome will require a little legwork.
Don't get bogged down by all of the uncertainty. Check out our guide, 13 Workplace Utilization Metrics Every IT Leader Should Track.
Know what metrics your company needs to track to evaluate where your company currently stands on these issues. You will have to take an inquiring look at how your company is doing in terms of reaching their goals. Make sure your workplace analytics solution gives leaders the ability to quickly view their most important metrics and KPIs to measure success this year as well as the ability to set up automated reporting. Your workplace analytics software will be most helpful if leaders also have the ability to customize their reports to suit their needs.
All of your hard work will pay off when people feel connected, empowered, and excited when they decide to come into the office.
To succeed in 2022, you need an evolved game plan for your company's corporate office space, one that prioritizes employee well-being, work-life balance, and workplace flexibility. How do you get your workplace strategy from here to there?
First, you need to understand the barriers and challenges that your organization will face.
Let's start with the obvious: Bringing people back to the workplace is challenging to say the least. People are looking to their employers for answers, even if those answers are in the vein of, "We're really not sure yet, but we'll keep everyone posted." On the other hand, if they sense that employers intend on forcing them back into the old ways of working, there will almost certainly be pushback. And employers also have the Great Resignation looming over them, reflecting a surge in demand for remote and hybrid work options, better benefits or pay, and firmer boundaries between home and work.
But those challenges aren't insurmountable, nor should they be avoided or go unaddressed. No matter what your return-to-office plans look like, things are going to be a little different than how people remember. During this transition period, effective internal communication will be critical for getting people ready and comfortable with your company's plans to reopen.
As they shift to a hybrid workplace, leaders are worried about how they will keep distributed workers engaged and happy. Last week, Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article that proposed there are three major tensions that managers will need to manage for a hybrid work model to succeed.
According to the article, those three tensions are: Working anytime versus working all the time, feelings of isolation versus feelings of invasion, and what's possible versus what's preferred.
Talk to people about why your organization values in-person working and open up a discussion with people, be responsive to their concerns and expectations. Learn about how people work best, what motivates them to engage, how they plan to spend their time in the office, and what an ideal work model would look like in their opinion. These kinds of conversations do more than give you insight into how to improve your space and support your employees, they can also demonstrate your willingness to listen and respond and in turn, help build trust.
Is it time to rethink your workplace strategy? Check out our Ultimate Workplace Technology Buyer's Guide and discover how to pick the solution that works for everyone.