As the pandemic subsides and the new world of work emerges, it’s clear that the demands on offices are going to be very different from now on.
The long-term growth of flexible working means that how offices are used, when they’re used and what motivates employees to work from the office has fundamentally changed. This doesn’t just mean a change of culture in how organizations operate, it also means more tangible changes are needed to office layouts, and the types of workspaces available.
To make things even more challenging for employers, there’s no manual out there on how to get this perfect. Every employer, industry and workforce is different, and so businesses need to assess their own situation to work out how best to redeploy its physical real estate in the future.
The best place to start assessing what that reimagining of your workplace should look like is by asking yourself these six questions.
What do employees want?
Understanding the motivations and expectations of employees is critical. This is not only so you can grasp exactly what will help them feel happy, comfortable, and productive; amid The Great Resignation, employee experience is now a much higher priority for the workforce than it once was. Where previously unhappy employees would have put up with the strain for the sake of the paycheck, they’re now more willing to jump ship if they’re dissatisfied. That makes it essential to know what they want and draw up plans to reshape workspaces with their feelings in mind.
What does your company need from office work?
Of course, while the views of employees are important, their desires shouldn’t come at the expense of smooth business operations. Giving them the autonomy to define their own working patterns and determine when they want to work from the office is fine, but it shouldn’t compromise how other departments and the business runs. Ensuring that employees can always get access to the right workspaces in the office is a key part of this, and it’s also worth considering designating certain bookable spaces for certain teams so that employees can also be sure they can collaborate easily.
What should your office look like?
Different reasons for coming into the office means the availability of different types of workspaces will need to be scaled up or down. It doesn’t make sense to allocate a permanent desk to every employee anymore if they aren’t in the office every day, for example. As a result, you can reduce the number of desk spaces and make them shared and bookable for certain times. With the floorspace you’ve saved, you can introduce more meeting rooms and informal meeting spaces, or even dedicated work pods when employees need peace and quiet for calls.
How can employees access workspaces?
For the ‘new’ office for employees, it needs to be as easy as possible for them to secure the workspaces they need when they need them. Ideally, they should be able to do so at any time, on whichever device they’re using at the time, and without the need to go through an admin team or go through a time-consuming phone or email booking process. This is where a good workspace management and booking solution comes into its own, where employees can search for a workspace, check its availability and make a booking in a matter of moments.
How can everyone get fair access to the spaces they need?
Supply and demand for workspaces will naturally fluctuate, and it’s human nature for some employees to make more bookings than they really need, just to make sure they’ve got access to ‘their’ space. Of course, this can impact other employees’ arrangements, and so an equitable system needs to be put in place so that everyone gets a fair chance to book the workspace they need. As well as rules defining who can book which types of spaces (varied by department and by where the workspace is situated), IT managers can also monitor workspace usage and easily identify cases where the booking system is being abused.
How can changes be made in the future?
If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that the business world isn’t standing still. For all we know, a workplace set-up that makes sense now might be useless to your workforce next year, so developing a flexible workplace means responding to a constantly moving target. This is where analytics embedded into a workspace management solution can be so powerful, highlighting changing trends and uncovering important insights, so that you can reshape the office over time and keep it relevant and supportive to business and employee needs.