Today, the workplace has expanded to include kitchen tables, home offices, bedside desks, and even cloffices (closet offices) – a hot commodity in this year’s crazy real estate market – to accomodate a more remote-driven workforce. These remote workspaces are most likely sticking around even after companies reopen their offices. In a world where many may find the convenience of working from home alluring, what attributes make the physical workplace a desirable destination? Companies across the country face the challenge of providing an experience that isn’t available at home – or wherever else employees may be working from. What will bring them to the office?
According to a recent Statista survey, 73% of people want a flexible working schedule even after the pandemic ends and they return to the office. Many employees have seen the benefits of remote work, so organizations will have to adjust to keep their employees engaged and satisfied. A workplace experience that offers a human-centric design and supports a hybrid work environment has become vital for attracting new talent and optimizing employee performance.
What is Workplace Experience?
The workplace experience (WX) is a holistic approach to developing the optimal environment for employees to do their work. Workplace experience takes into account how the design of your space and technology can drive better outcomes for your business — from employee engagement and productivity to talent retention and lower real estate costs. Workplace experience focuses on flexibility and visibility for all of your employees, especially in a hybrid workplace, by improving performance, productivity, recruitment, and retention of both the in-office and work-from-home workforce.
The workplace experience is made up of three major components:
Space – The physical surroundings in which your employees do their work.
Technology – The systems and tools your employees use to do their jobs.
People – The relationships, policies, and company culture that impact how the work is done for your organization.
To understand how these three key components work in tandem to optimize the workplace experience for your employees, let’s look at an example: meetings.
Your facilities team is responsible for the design and operations of your conference rooms and meeting spaces. Your IT team is likely responsible for the technology – including the room displays, various audio and video peripherals, different types of video conferencing software, other devices, and networking requirements that are utilized to operate meetings for your company. Finally, your HR team establishes policies around culture and communication. These components create a workplace experience and atmosphere for your company that enables your employees to do their best work in your office space.
Taking a Cue from the Retail Industry
The focus on experience is not new. A similar trend has played out in the retail industry over the past decade. With the growth of online shopping, to attract consumers to physical storefronts, many brick and mortar retailers have shifted their in-store model and purpose from purely transactional to a focus on alluring in-store experiences to meet the demands of their customers. They have enhanced the retail experience – sometimes referred to as ‘retailtainment’ – by combining shopping and a unique or entertaining experience as an anchor for getting customers in the door to interact with their brand and sell products.
A well-known example of a retail experience is the Apple Store. Apple has created a unique hands-on experiential environment that customers want to visit. Like the transformation of many retail stores, employers must now consider what atmosphere, experiences, and amenities are needed to make the physical workplace a valuable destination. What types of spaces, design, technology, and social interactions will create a workplace that encourages employees to visit the physical office space?
What Makes a Great Workplace Experience?
As discussed, the three elements of workplace experience — space, technology, and people – help your organization maximize the value for your employees in a cost-effective way. A practical workplace experience can leverage limited real estate budgets more efficiently, improve employee experience, and increase employee engagement.
If your company is working with a limited real estate budget, one component of the workplace experience to consider is space. For example, fewer fixed desks and more collaboration spaces require less square footage. This workspace change can reduce real estate costs and create a more engaging and collaborative work environment for your employees.
Empowering your employees with the right tools and technology also brings value to the workplace experience. For instance, meeting technologies that enable your employees to join or host hybrid meetings from any meeting space, using any video conferencing service, provide them with the flexibility required to easily and effectively collaborate in the more dynamic hybrid environment. When your employees can spend less time figuring out logistics and technology roadblocks, they have more time to focus on the work that matters.
Your workplace experience can also be a tool to increase your employees’ engagement. According to a Gallup, a study discovered that team members with high engagement produce much better outcomes. Employees are also more likely to remain with their company because of a great workplace experience.
How Can Your Company Enhance Your Workplace Experience?
What does it mean to have a positive experience — be it with a product, a place, or even another person? The challenge is to expand this feeling beyond a single person, product, or place to encompass every employee of your company. A great workplace experience can be achieved when you combine human-centered design, intuitive technology, employee experience and culture, and optimized operations at your organization.
Human-Centered Workplace Design
A human-centric workplace for your company revolves around your employees and addressing their specific needs in the workplace. Your company needs to consider what design elements will benefit your employees and entice them to come into the office space — creating an environment where your employees can thrive. This environment starts with involving them in the design process for your office space.
What types of spaces will benefit their mood, ability to collaborate, and productivity? How can these spaces be best arranged? And can they be easily reconfigured and scaled as your business and employee needs change? Your company needs to offer elements of empathy and creativity – and fulfill business needs – to enhance the workplace experience.
Technology that Improves Hybrid Workplace Collaboration
Your employees work differently today than they did even a year ago, and your company’s workplace technology needs to reflect that. They have become accustomed to working productively from home, but many still want the in-person collaboration and socialization that stems from an office environment. Highly responsive and secure workplace platforms can help your employees work in tandem with one another regardless of where they decide to work from — in the office or remote.
In the office, focus on technology that puts intuitive collaboration first, providing a consistent user experience across all of your meeting spaces – from small huddle spaces to large conference rooms. Your employees have become accustomed to launching video conferences, sharing content, and collaborating all from their laptops. Technology that enables this same, personalized workflow in the workplace will be favored over the traditional room systems that provide single-vendor video conferencing and limit flexibility in collaboration and communication applications.
Effective workplace technology is key to building a positive workplace experience. Invest in workplace technology that boosts collaboration and communications from anywhere, whether your employees are in-office, remote, or hybrid. Utilizing workplace technology that drives innovations in the workplace can help your employees become more collaborative within your company.
Enhanced Company Culture and Employee Experience
Your company may need to create employee experiences that increase the productivity and engagement of your workforce. Employee experience (EX) refers to the holistic view of your employee’s relationship with your company, from different types of activities to communication and collaboration among your company’s employees. Your company should recognize that the employee experience is just as necessary as the customer experience they provide.
You can optimize your company culture and employee experience by implementing different types of events in experience-driven spaces. Some examples of events that encourage employees to come into the office include in-person collaboration and brainstorming, onboarding, mentorships, networking, and team building events – all of which help to promote employee engagement and ultimately support overall employee happiness and productivity.
At the end of the day, we all want to work at human-centric workplaces. Suppose you want employees to consider a long-term career at your company. In that case, there has to be a workplace environment that fulfills their needs for recognition, personal development, and rewarding teamwork. A human-centric workplace that rewards, supports, and develops leads to motivated employees who are more than ready to meet the next challenge.
Drive sustainable growth, new sources of revenue, and innovation by putting workplace experience at the heart of your business evolution. An engaging workplace experience that provides the right atmosphere for productivity, collaboration, and social experiences helps your employees feel motivated about their work and their purpose on their respective teams and within the company as a whole.
In order to optimize your company’s workplace experience, it may be in your best interest to have a team dedicated to the variables needed for a successful workplace experience. Workplace Experience Managers, for example, focus on the operations and logistics of making the workplace environment the best and most efficient workspace for the company’s employees. As the future of the workplace continues to shift, investing in a dedicated workplace experience role will help to ensure your office environment meets the needs of your employees.
Workplace Experience Matters Wherever You Work
Whether your workplace is fully onsite, fully remote, or hybrid, workplace experience matters. While flexibility is key in a hybrid workplace, for those companies that retain a physical footprint – it is still important to focus on the physical workplace and creating a meaningful and desirable workplace experience within these spaces. Providing spaces, technology, and experiences that can spark new ideas, facilitate brainstorming and ideation, encourage collaboration, and enable mentorship, networking, and other team-building activities is critical to your organization’s overall success.
Building a workplace environment that enables your team to thrive in their role as part of the company is vital. A holistic approach that creates a seamless experience that crosses technology, space, and culture can bring employees together, helping them to be more collaborative, engaged, and productive in your company’s workplace – and ultimately leading to a higher return on investment for your business.