As Zach Dunn recently noted in our "Workplace Strategy Made Simple" Live Discussion with Rags Gupta and Michael Goulty, a lot of folks today are waking up and making the decision: is the office gonna be part of my day today? And if I do choose to go to the office, what sort of environment will be waiting for me?
As a workplace strategist, it's important to understand that the modern workplace is rapidly changing, and organizations need to adapt to new ways of working to stay competitive. It's essential to think beyond traditional office layouts and consider how technology and collaboration tools can be used to create a productive and engaging work environment.
During our recent live discussion with our partners at Robin, we uncovered six essential steps that are crucial to follow when designing a new workplace strategy. By considering these, you can help your organization stay competitive and attract top talent.
01. Value Assessment : Start with what you have.
Start by assessing the value of your current workplace and how you talk about it. Identify what is working well and what isn't. To determine whether your workspace is performing at its maximum capacity, it's important to consider both stated and revealed preferences, as well as anecdotal stories and actual behavior. Stated preferences can be obtained through surveys and qualitative feedback from employees, which can provide insights into their perceptions of workplace layout and programming.
However, it's also essential to look at revealed preferences, which are the actions people take, to understand how they actually behave in the workplace. Sometimes, people say they want one thing but act differently, which is why it's important to analyze actual behavior in addition to feedback.
It's also crucial to ask yourself why you still have an office. This question is not meant to put anyone on the defensive, but rather to provoke thought and reflection. It's important to consider the purpose of the office and whether it's still necessary or if it can be reimagined to better support employees' needs and goals. By continuously questioning and evaluating the workplace, you can ensure that it's serving its intended purpose and contributing to the success of the organization.
02. Revisiting the Office: Go back to first principles.
Think about the purpose of the space and what you want it to achieve. Reimagine how the physical environment can support your employees' work and well-being, and describe the gap between what you have and where you want to get clearly.
Keep in mind that a successful workplace strategy must address the challenge that not everyone will be in the office every day. This unpredictability can make it challenging to plan and ensure that the workplace is a useful tool for getting work done. As such, it's crucial to design a workplace strategy that accommodates remote work and considers other non-traditional spaces as part of the overall workplace.
03. Inclusive Strategies: Consider Different Teams.
A diverse range of roles within an organization means that different employees will use the office in different ways, and this must be taken into account when designing a workplace strategy. For example, an engineer coming into the office will likely not require as many meetings or collaborative spaces as someone in marketing or sales.
Therefore, the workplace strategy should consider the specific needs of each department and create spaces that are tailored to their requirements. This could include providing quiet areas for engineers to focus on technical work or creating collaborative spaces for marketing or sales teams to brainstorm and meet with clients. Assign unique needs to each department, visualize, implement and pay attention to how they interact with each other in the physical space.
04. No Random Changes: Measure, measure, measure.
Measure every behavior and any reaction to changes you introduce. Does this "Taco Tuesday" program really draw people in? And are people only coming in for the free tacos? Is the hefty annual subscription to this digital collaboration plugin being utilized to its maximum capacity? Use data to answer questions as such (from the most simple to the most complicated you will encounter), inform your decisions and track the impact of changes you introduce.
The necessity for data does not stop only to changes: By collecting this data, you can identify trends and patterns that can inform your workplace strategy. For example, if an organization has specific spaces designed for collaboration and teaming, you may want to track collaboration hours per person to measure the effectiveness of those spaces. If you have a fully remote workforce that uses digital platforms for communication and collaboration, you may want to track platform utilization and identify which features are used most frequently.
05. Communication is key: Ensure everyone is on board.
Make sure everyone understands the value of your workplace strategy. Engage with employees and stakeholders to explain the reasons behind changes and how they will benefit.
When it comes to onboarding employees to a new way of working, communication and transparency are key. It's important to clearly communicate what the new way of working entails, how it will impact employees, and what the expectations are for using the office space. Providing a tour of the office and explaining how different spaces are intended to be used, alongside the technology they carry, can also help employees visualize how they can best utilize the space to support their work. Additionally, providing training and support on any new technologies or tools that are being introduced can help employees feel more confident and comfortable in their new work environment.
In addition to onboarding, it's also important to ensure that the physical space itself is designed to be inviting and user-friendly. This means minimizing any unnecessary barriers or obstacles that might make it difficult or frustrating for employees to use the space effectively. For example, if the lobby requires a complicated sign-in process, this could be streamlined or automated to make it easier and more efficient. The goal is to create a seamless, user-friendly experience that makes it easy and enjoyable for employees to come into the office and get their work done. This will help to build engagement and adoption over time, as employees begin to see the benefits of using the office space as a tool to support their work.
06. Innovation: Always put the benefits first.
Don't be afraid to introduce new things. Be open to experimenting with new ideas and approaches, and encourage feedback from employees. People will most likely be on board if they understand the value and purpose of the changes.
As a workplace strategist, it's important to not be afraid to introduce new tools and workflows to your employees. While it's easy to assume that people are resistant to change, the reality is that most employees are willing to try new things as long as they understand the value it brings to them. Even simple tasks like checking into desks or signing into the lobby can be adopted if they see the benefits. In fact, with the rise of hybrid work, there's a growing group of employees who are eager to pilot new hardware and software to improve their team's success in the office. As a workplace strategist, it's important to support this group and introduce new tools and workflows to enhance their experience and productivity.
In conclusion, designing a successful workplace strategy requires a thoughtful approach that considers the specific needs of employees and the organization as a whole. By following the six essential steps outlined in this article, workplace strategists can assess the value of their current workspace, rethink the purpose of the office, create inclusive strategies, collect data, and communicate effectively with employees and stakeholders. A successful workplace strategy can ultimately contribute to the success of the organization by providing a productive and engaging work environment that attracts top talent and keeps employees motivated and satisfied. With the rapidly changing modern workplace, it's more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve and design a workplace strategy that meets the needs of today's workforce.
Robin is the hybrid workplace company. Since 2014, we’ve empowered people to do their best work by building tech solutions that fuel vibrant workplace experiences. Our platform redefines work and community building for hybrid companies everywhere. It is our mission to empower people to do great work and foster a sense of community regardless of location.