The world of work has changed for good in the last 12 months and with workers becoming accustomed to remote working it is going to take workplace leaders some concerted effort to entice them back to the office for any sustained length of time.
Leaders need to step up to the plate and technology is, of course, the driving force in this new hybrid working world.
How the paradigm has shifted
Where previously the world of work was centred around real estate and the needs of business it is becoming more apparent that the needs of the employee is becoming more and more central to the workplace experience.
A recent report by workplace experience assessor Leesman draws a similar conclusion. The central thrust of their findings is that a workplace needs to fulfil the wider purpose of serving organisational needs.
Their key finding is that many offices are not fit for purpose and that with only 12 months to do so many workers have created a more productive workspace than what is on offer from their employers.
Now is the time for action!
If workplace leaders haven’t created a suitably productive environment for their staff than their own homes in the last 12 months then it is obvious that workers are going to be reluctant to return to the office.
Other factors are coming into play. Many workers are concerned that returning to work is going to be detrimental to their mental health as well as understandable concerns about Covid.
Progressive workplace leaders need to be taking action:
Promoting a hybrid split between homeworking and the office
Fostering a change in management style towards coaching and encouragement
Empowering workers to make their own decisions on where best to work
Management setting clearer goals
It is a delicate balancing act. Leaders need to challenge some of their own assumptions about appropriate management styles and lazy perceptions about home working.
How can leaders make that change?
Workplace leaders can make that change by creating the right physical and psychological environments for their workers.
Agile working is key to creating the productive outcomes that employers want while also recognizing and respecting employees needs for a work life balance and enabling them to work where they feel they are going to the most effective.
Agile working is about changing the way that employees interact with the space as much as it is about flexible working.
The challenge for real estate leaders is:
To minimize unused space
To reduce property costs
To deliver change in a cost-effective manner
To minimise any barriers to communication
At the same time they need to foster positive outcomes such as:
Improving the workplace culture and morale
Empowering the sharing of knowledge
Driving employee motivation
How can technology effect this change?
Once the will is there to create an agile workplace then a strategy needs to be put in place. A key component of this is going to be technologically driven.
Areas to address include:
Meeting room management – videoconferences are never going to fully replace the experience of meeting face to face. Only in the here and now can attendees be fully present. Meeting room booking software is an important part of the agile working journey enabling staff to book ahead of time using a mobile booking interface on an on-demand basis.
Video conference management – the meeting room booking system also plays an important role in booking video conferences for geographically distributed teams. Integrating VC platforms with meeting room booking software enables staff to delegate the tedium of working out time-zone differences to the technology and with full endpoint integration staff can simply arrive at the meeting room and begin the video conference – a great time saver.
Desk booking – meetings are only one aspect of a busy day in the office. Where desk space utilisation is at a premium and leaders need to maintain the optimum desk ratios then a desk booking system driving a hoteling strategy is a necessity. Like the meeting room booking system, this should be based around an intuitive booking platform. User interfaces based around floorplan
Space utilization – to have a successful agile journey you need to be able to measure how the space is used so you can make the necessary adjustments for the future. Occupancy sensor integration with the meeting room booking system is the ideal way to do this as you can monitor actual usage of desks while also building a snapshot of real room occupancy over time.
Actionable data – by triangulating the data from various sources – the meeting room booking software, occupancy sensors and the desk booking software – you can start to make some intelligent driven decisions. For example, the data set is telling you that the meeting rooms are only averaging 40% occupancy per week so this may drive you to think about repurposing them as hot desk areas.
Repurposing the space – with the lines of the traditional meeting becoming blurred you will need to think beyond tables and chairs when fitting out your meeting rooms for the new hybrid meeting future. Think about docking stations for laptops so workers can plug and go, studio quality microphones, HD displays and Teams/Zoom enabled rooms.
Work as an event – a trip to the office is going to become more of a novelty for most knowledge workers. Creating a great meeting experience with the latest audio-visual technology is one way to entice workers back but the whole purpose of coming to the office will subtly shift too with a visit becoming more intentional in nature. Workers will visit the office for important client meetings, for face-to-face training or for collaborative project work.
Work is now something you do and not a place you visit. With continued innovations in technology it is now possible for workers to be as productive from home as it is at the workplace.
Workplace leaders need to come to terms with this shift while also creating an enticing environment for when face to face meetings are required.
Technology plays a major part in creating a great digital experience for these hybrid workers while also driving future real estate decisions.
The move to agile working will ultimately lead to a more productive workforce, reduced worker attrition, a more fulfilled workforce and the accomplishment of more corporate goals. A win-win situation for everyone.