Workplaces are so much more than places where people do their jobs. They can act as places where people achieve goals that they work hard towards, where people come together to inspire each other and drive themselves forward as a team, and where people can feel a sense of belonging as part of a successful operation.
The importance of these less tangible and more human factors has only been increased by the pandemic. More and more employees are placing a greater focus on employee experience, work/life balance, and the role that their work plays in their overall wellbeing. As a result of this, and when the growth in flexible working is taken into account, it’s vital to create workplaces that can inspire and empower employees, instead of holding them back.
There are lots of things businesses can do to make this happen, but four in particular stand out:
Employees increasingly want flexibility in terms of where and when they work, and to be able to seamlessly move between locations without any compromise to their productivity. But this is only half of the freedom story. On the days when employees come into the office, they want to arrive with 100% certainty that the trip will be worthwhile. After all, if they can’t work the way they want from the office, then why won’t they just stay at home all the time?
The way to ensure employees feel productive in the office is to give them the widest possible choice of workspaces to book, and to make it as easy as possible for them to make those bookings. Workspace booking software, especially when integrated across web, mobile and Microsoft Outlook calendars, mean employees can secure the spaces they need for whenever they need them, days before they come into the office. The value of their working from the office can therefore be guaranteed and maximized.
In the United Kingdom, research by CIPD has found that 45% of employees felt their mental health declined over the course of the pandemic. However, the same research found that more than 80% of employers responded to mental wellbeing concerns by placing a greater focus in this area, and by providing more support tailored to individual employee needs.
It may not seem like it at face value, but the workplace has a major part to play in enabling this support. For example, many employees may not have the space or living arrangements available to make remote working practical, or may suffer from the isolation of working alone. Enabling them to book workspaces and visit the office any time they feel the need gives them a viable alternative that can relieve any stress or pressure they’re feeling. It also allows them to gain face-to-face contact with their managers if they feel they need to talk about any issues in confidence.
Remote working may have some benefits from a flexibility perspective, but one major flaw that has emerged is in how it makes it far more difficult to successfully deliver training and education. According to Doddle research highlighted in this new Condeco Conversations report: Learning and Innovation, half of employees feel their careers have stalled or regressed during the pandemic. A major reason for this is that remote contact through video conferencing is proving to be no substitute for face-to-face contact, and online learning courses don’t offer the same organic, personal approach to education of working directly with an instructor.
Because of this, it’s clear that the office still has huge value as a place of learning: one where employees can visit at designated times to take the courses they need, and where they can get answers to key questions from the experts directly.
Human beings are naturally social creatures, and so it’s important that they can have face-to-face contact with their co-workers. This not only stimulates their mind and helps support their mental wellbeing, but also helps strengthen the working relationships that deliver better collaboration and a strong team culture.
So even if some employees work from home most or even all of the time, the office can still be used as a collaboration hub, where teams can come together for formal meetings, or even for informal social events.
That way, workplaces can become the centerpiece of a positive culture throughout the organization, however flexibly people work.