Agility, flexibility… as a facility or workplace manager you must hear these words every day. What’s not so clear is how to achieve them and live up to expectations. With this checklist, we hope we can help you transition to a flexible and hybrid workplace management model, step by step.
Start at the start: where is your company at?
Appoint a workplace strategy team
So you think you can change the workplace on your own? Think again. Dictatorship is not a good start to creating a collaborative space. Appoint a team with managers, designers, company leaders and even employees to make sure everyone’s needs are taken care of.
Gather spatial intelligence
First things first. When you set out to build an efficient and pleasant workplace, you need to gather information. Which areas are used the most? How many people are in each room, on average? And for how long? Understanding employee behaviour is essencial to planning a layout that accommodates everyone.
Make an employee survey
Making a company-wide survey is a good idea in order manage to expectations and collect insight about how to improve the employee experience. However, it’s better if employees take the survey while they’re at work or fresh out of a meeting. This way they’ll remember exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Consider making an audit
An audit may be another worthwhile idea. If you don’t have one, make an inventory of your equipment and existing structures (for example, how many desks, monitors, and conference rooms). Then, you can match it to typical workflows and monitor what everyday employee behaviours look like.
Turn to smart technology
Between the first and two steps, you might have noticed you don’t have much intel. If that’s the case, explore options to collect more data. Using smart technology can help you analyse workplace usage, improve employee experience at the same time, and even save energy!
Adjust to the ever-changing workplace
Improve flexibility with the right technology
A hybrid workplace needs to be flexible. A whopping 71% of employees expect their workplace to have a flexible design. This enables ‘choice-based’ working styles – when they go to the office, for how long, and where they’d like to work. Booking software is a must to improve employee experience and provide “agile seating”.
You should also take into consideration software integration. Rooms need to be prepared when someone reserves them, for example. You may also want to install a few booths for video calls and technology that brings the hybrid workforce closer. But, above all, you’ll want to invest in software and equipment that are agile and able to morph as your organisation’s needs change.
Commit to sustainability
Sustainability may seem like a little detour but it makes sense. About 65% of employees say they’re more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies. Fortunately, that’s something hybrid and smart workplaces can drastically improve. Feeling like employers are aligned with their own values will make them more engaged.
Prioritize health and wellness
Sensor data can let you know if people are gathering too much in one place and not social distancing. Therefore, knowing employees’ habits can help you redesign and support their well-being. At the same time, you can promote wellness programs that include yoga classes, healthier midday snacks, and other measures that improve comfort and happiness.
Update workplace layout to improve employee retention
Do you think anyone wants to work in cubicles? Of course not. But open offices aren’t perfect either. Open-plan workspaces decrease productivity and hurt morale because we tend to withdraw from colleagues. In a surprising twist, workers in limited spaces tend to interact more through email and messaging than face-to-face conversations.
After all, nobody wants to work at a place where everyone can take a sneak peek at their computer or eavesdrop on their calls! Some even come to resent senior workers for their private offices. Now, let this sink in: 1 in 8 open office workers in the United States say their office layout has led them to consider leaving their job.
Design ways for people to connect
The need for privacy does not mean people don’t want to socialise. A study found that 40% of employees “always” or “very often” feel lonely. Humans naturally need social connections! However, in another interesting twist, an Accenture study found that in-office workers feel less connected than their remote counterparts.
Therefore, workplace managers need to encourage community-building among employees. Collaborative software is at the core of office communication, but it’s also important to have spaces where people can brainstorm and reunite. Social events can also create an opportunity to meet new employees and people from other departments. Don’t forget that sharing experiences is often what drives them to try new processes!
Beware of unconscious bias
There are a few things that, subcounsciously, impact employee productivity. For example, plants in the office could make workers 15% more productive. Colours like red and yellow could increase heat rate and induce stress. However, white could also make people feel like they’re in a hospital setting. Working with a workplace designer who’s aware of these nuances is highly recommended.
The future: keep an eye on analytics
Plan for regular evolution of workplace strategy
Modern offices were established in the 1960s. In the great scheme of things, ‘hybrid workplaces’ are still new. People returned to the office with different expectations, but their new way of working is still evolving. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye on analytics and to understand employees’ changing needs and working patterns. You can also check in with company leaders from time to time.
To adjust and improve your workplace strategy over time, you will want to keep track of:
- employee satisfaction and well-being
- usage of office space and peak hours
- carbon footprint and energy use
- company ROI
Encourage people to experiment
We’re increasingly reliant on technology. But it’s only human to be afraid of change! From time to time, give people a ‘try out day’ to experiment with new technology. Doing this together as a team helps them realise the potential new technology holds for their internal processes.
Explore greater flexibility
Flexibility is much more than choosing when you come to the office. Once you’ve become comfortable with a hybrid workplace, let employees explore different schedules that adapt better to their circadian rhythms and family life. Nowadays, fewer than 25% of workers feel like they have true autonomy to manage their time. So we still have a long way to go!