By Mike D’Abramo & Daniel Pozzebon
Sklar Wilton & Associates has been in the “building stronger brands” business for years and because the best brands are built from the inside out, we have extended our strategic services to help our clients navigate through disruption and futureproof their business. In this three-part blog series, we’ll examine the Future of Work as it relates to businesses, brands, people, and culture to help you ask the right questions and find answers that are unique to your company.
From in-person, to remote, to hybrid, it’s clear that work is having its moment. And, while businesses look towards the New Year and a potential return to office, they’ll need to reconsider their physical space and whether it provides an optimal environment for employees to thrive post-pandemic.
A report recently commissioned by video messaging platform Loom found that “90% of employees surveyed – including workers and managers – are happier with the increased freedom they now have to work from home, suggesting that this is likely to be a trend that is here to stay as we move into 2022.”
For organizations to attract and retain the best talent, they’ll need to create a space that enables employees to excel beyond table stakes and the capabilities of their home office to justify its use.
Here are some key considerations for businesses looking to reimagine their workspace for the future and create a compelling and inspiring environment:
Accommodative Collaboration: Employees are unique individuals with unique needs, but psychological safety is a need that is mandatory for all. It is an employer’s duty to set the scene and be a watchdog for any encroachments on this safety. One practical step in achieving this is creating spaces for a wide range of functions. Providing areas for solitude as well as areas for casual collaboration will satisfy the needs of those who fall on all different points of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. To make this setting even more effective, promote active listening about individual needs: never assume employees feel safe or comfortable. Allow employees to express how they’d prefer to be working and do what you can to best accommodate.
Resilience: Change is hard but maintaining is ever harder. Tensions and stressors in the world around us will continue in 2022. To ensure retention, it is imperative that the workplace is set-up for long-term healthy habitation as a safe place from the outside world. The basics of this include ample sunlight, plants, sanitized surfaces, healthy snack foods, filtered airflow, and ergonomic work stations. But this is just a start. The expectation of what an office setting will provide has risen since working from the comfort of your home has become normalized—just as our homes have become offices, our offices will integrate elements from our home. This means things like dry-cleaning programs, daycare assistance, and flexible scheduling to accommodate emergency errands.
Inspiration: Being comfortable in your workplace is one thing, but having it be a source of inspiration is what will keep employees performing at their best. Build on the strategies above with material science and biophilic design. Use various materials that are proven to elicit certain emotions. This means calm, soft, neutral materials in the meditative zones and exciting, hard, and bold materials in collaboration zones. Providing these elements will push the office beyond a place of resilience into a place to be desired.
Re-acclimating to a new setting or matching the newly raised expectations of space brought upon by working from home will not be a simple task. How will your organization create a space that excels beyond the capabilities of a home office while retaining the safety and securities of working from home? Allow transparency, active listening, and democratized decision-making to guide your decisions to best accommodate your most valuable resources, the people behind it all.