While discussions around hybrid workplaces and the needs of employees have been around for years, these conversations have changed considerably in the last four.
Since companies started opening their office buildings after the pandemic, there have been some interesting proclamations - and then u-turns - highlighting the difficulties organisations of all sizes are having in determining the best fit for their people (and their finances).
With every quarter bringing new concerns - employee retention, recruitment, rising costs, and more - what are the priorities for an employee-focused company as they look ahead?
Good for Employees, Good for Growth
The office isn’t dead
So, what is your policy on office working?
When the world reopened after Covid, there were many who declared that offices would close their doors forever and cities would go quiet - we certainly haven’t seen that.
While many urban areas are still quieter than pre-pandemic, it’s clear that businesses see value in the office - and not only from a real-estate point of view.
Whether the benefits are easier people management and visibility of teams, or the social interaction that improves team dynamics, employee wellbeing and creativity, many organisations encourage their people back on-site (Forbes article).
However, it’s clear that it’s not only managers who are keen to keep the office doors open. There is increasing evidence that employees also recognise the value of the office environment for social interaction, personal development and clearer boundaries between home and work (BBC article).
Hybrid Working is the Future
Hybrid working isn’t going to go anywhere. While time in the office is recognised as valuable, employees are adamant that the flexibility they have experienced through home-working will be fought for.
According to this Hubble report, companies embracing hybrid working will be in the majority. What that looks like is different for each organisation and policies will, no doubt, adapt over time.
However, this exercise has shown that companies are more flexible than they once would have told us - and they recognise the importance of supporting employee needs.
Providing solutions that support people will benefit organisations
While - for many organisations - the push to support remote working was necessitated by the office closures of 2020, the concerns facing these businesses now are very different. As well as financial concerns prompted by rising costs, recruiting difficulties encourage many employers to focus on ensuring experienced staff are happy and productive (see the CIPD Labour Market Outlook).
But what does this mean for those of us who are focused on developing workspaces?
For each company, there will be a need to understand what is needed from it’s spaces - what are employees looking for and how can this be achieved within the budget and constraints available.
While no longer needing to house an entire workforce will allow for a reduction in a building footprint, bringing a corresponding lowering in rent and energy costs, there will also be ways to improve digital services within the workplace which enhance employee productivity and organisational effectiveness.
I previously wrote about some of these changes in my post, looking at the importance of employee-experience on retention (Improving Employee Experience: How to Embrace Hybrid Working and Energise Your People).
Bringing It All Together
An employee-centred environment will not only improve wellbeing and engagement but encourage creativity and enable your people to work more productively. The right environment is good for your business because it is good for your people.
As you look to the needs of your organisation and its people, you might consider how your digital services and infrastructure can support you better.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.