The changing nature of work and the need to attract and retain talent is creating a paradigm shift in the world of workplace culture and office design. After our great working-from-home experiment, employees expect more from their workplace. More needs to be done if organizations want to earn people’s commute. The role of the office must continue to evolve.
Returning to the Office
We know that time spent in the office contributes to camaraderie, collaboration, mentorship and morale. It’s tough to maintain a meaningful culture if employees don’t work within the culture. Organizations now must give employees a reason to come back to the office; if these policies are instead mandated, they risk losing talent.
Providing an ecosystem of spaces in the workplace is a good way to start. If employees are provided with a variety of settings that allow them to get their work done more effectively than they would working from their kitchen table, then they are more likely to choose the workplace as their primary destination. If all they are offered is a chair and desk in a noisy cubicle farm, they may choose to stay home.
Solutions like the Steelcase Flex Collection were designed with flexibility and mobility in mind. Flexible furniture that allows users to reconfigure their space on demand provides everyone an opportunity to design a workspace that works for them. Height adjustable mobile desks and Personal Spaces with acoustic elements allow employees to create their own retreat in the open office – a place to take a call or a meeting or perform heads-down focus work. The Flex Collection provides both solutions for individuals and teams – collaboration solutions like mobile power units, standing height tables (also mobile!) and easily configurable screens allow teams to design their own impromptu meeting spaces as needed.
Providing the Comforts of Home
Working from home, while perhaps lacking a traditional ergonomic set up, has benefits employees may be reluctant to give up. Introducing more residential-inspired design elements in the workplace may provide employees with the comforts of home while still providing functional, productive workspaces. Residential-inspired spaces may also provide employees with spaces to collaborate, rejuvenate and socialize with co-workers, something that we all have been missing while working from home. These spaces build an infrastructure for cultivating a sense of community that has been difficult to create while people have been exclusively remote.
Providing these kinds of ‘coffee-shop’ or living room spaces can offer employees a sense of wellbeing and comfort but will also need to support a range of postures, easy access to power and the ability to control the level of privacy needed for the task at hand.
Braiding the Digital and Physical
It’s no surprise that, with the rise of video conferencing and virtual meetings, technology access in the office is more important than ever. Immersive ecosystems designed to bring people and technology together in one place not only boost productivity but support new ways of working. This is especially important in the hybrid workplace, as technology must be used to bridge the gap between in-office and remote workers.
Leading organizations should be taking steps now to prepare for a significant increase in hybrid collaboration, as more people return to the office, so they can be as productive as possible. To create the best possible hybrid work experience, organizations will want to offer a range of spaces with technology solutions to easily support diverse types of collaboration — from a planned creative session to an impromptu one-on-one and everything in between.
A well-designed space that earns the commute supports all the different ways we work and brings people and technology together to boost productivity, enhance wellbeing and build trust through face-to-face interactions. As organizations adapt to the changes they face while working through this pandemic, we have an opportunity to bring people together at a time they most need human connections and to help businesses move forward.