If you’re a senior manager or workplace planner reading this, the chances are that by now, you probably have a pretty clear idea of what workplace shifts and the future of work will look like. You’ll have given some thought to the kinds of workspaces it will contain, how employees will use them, and how this fits in with an overall plan to bring more flexibility into employees’ working arrangements long-term.
Taken at face value, this vision might sound fine and dandy from the perspective of the business, and in making sure that office work continues to make a positive contribution to the bottom line.
But does this vision overlook perhaps the most important stakeholders in any reshaped workplace: the employees themselves?
If a new working model doesn’t achieve positive buy-in from the employees and teams using it, then it’ll fall flat at the first hurdle. Put barriers to hassle-free, efficient office work in employees’ way and not only will they work from home as much as possible, but they may even look for alternative employers who will put employee experience front and centre.
This article highlights five key tips for ensuring that employees are always top priority when it comes to flexible work:
1. Get their views – now and always
Obviously, the first place to start is by checking the pulse of employee sentiment, especially as so many will have been working partially or fully from home for so long. Focus groups, questionnaires and informal conversations can all help you understand what employees want – but this is not a one-time process. Just as business demands change, so do employee expectations, and what might be suitable today may not be right for tomorrow. Because of this, seeking out employee opinions should be a continuous activity.
2. Don’t forget that people are different
Having one great, strong idea about the workspaces of the future is likely to suit many employees – but it’s highly unlikely to suit everyone. It sounds like such a simple thing to say, but every employee is different, and has different motivations and drivers around their work, as well as different commitments in their personal life that they want to balance. A middle ground is therefore most likely to suit as many employees as possible: delivering choice in where and when they work, and the workspaces available to them in the office, will pay higher dividends than forcing change in one particular direction.
3. Monitor usage and make changes where needed
Employee sentiment isn’t the only useful source of information that can help you understand when and how to make changes to workspace provision. By using analytics tooling, integrated with the solution you deploy for workspace booking software, you can grasp exactly who uses which workspaces and when, and whether supply is matched to demand. These vital insights remove the guesswork from making changes to the office environment as required, ensuring it continually meets both business and employee needs.
4. Give them space to grow
Offices are more than just a place where employees come to do their work – they’re also a place for personal growth, career development and training. This occurs in two ways: formal learning events specific to employees’ jobs or for qualifications, and more organic education where employees learn on the job and through conversations with their co-workers. Office spaces should continue to support both forms of learning in the future, and should complement online training such as webinars and web-based courses that employees can undertake from home.
5. A different kind of connection
All of the above points help support the ways in which employees connect with each other and with their jobs, but don’t necessarily address how an employee connects with the organization they work for. Helping engage employees through a strong company culture is the less tangible benefit of bringing employees together in an office environment. Our recent eBook on employee experience and collaboration found that the top three reasons employees missed office work were informal collaboration, socialization and supporting the work of others. In-person work, where teams can freely exchange ideas face-to-face, can make a major positive difference to all three.