No longer are our workplaces the place that we must go to “work”. Within the first quarter of 2020, the corporate world was forced to demonstrate that we can, in fact, work from anywhere in the masses. This has posed the question for many organisations, “what is the true purpose of our work environment?”.
We spend more time at work than anywhere else so it makes sense that this space should accommodate a variety of our social needs and provide us with a sense of community. It should be a space to facilitate professional social connection, to enable us to connect with our colleagues and our organisations, to collaborate, brainstorm, innovate and problem-solve, together.
So what is it about these communities that give us a collective sense of meaning, pride and belonging, and ultimately drive loyalty? It’s the shared values, experiences and stories, and more so, it’s the environments that facilitate these connections.
Before we look at the role the physical workspace plays in creating a positive workplace environment we need to first consider the holistic employee experience.
Employee experience lies at the intersection of the physical workplace, the organisational culture and the virtual environment; the technology that makes it all possible.
When we can deliver these three environments holistically, we can deliver an experiential environment, which creates engagement, connection and delivers business value, ranging from employee attraction and retention, through to productivity, innovation and profitability.
When people think about the workplace, most think about the building or the furniture. But it’s so much more than that.
Randstad’s recent employer brand research  highlighted the considerable gap between employees’ expectations and experiences ranking the physical workplace as the 4th most important factor when looking for a new job. While employers believed it was one of the least important factors in attracting talent ranking it close to last at 8th.
Our work environments can positively influence our experience of work and it provides an opportunity to ask the question;
What if… you could find your place at work where you felt at home?
We look at four core principles that enable us to find our place at work where we feel at home.
A core factor of your employee value proposition is your brand and your culture. If you have top talent choosing between you and a competitor, these two factors are going to play highly on their choice.
A brand story is not just the logo and the suite of colours, it’s the narrative that illustrates the history of your business, where you came from, who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
The physical workplace is your opportunity to create an environment that looks, feels and breathes like your brand. How your brand comes to life in your workplace will then lead the culture of the organisation.
Understanding your values, and the behaviours that underpin these values and then those you wish to create, enables your space to be intuitively designed to influence them.
Take collaboration as an example. If this is one of your organisational values and is critical to the success of your organisation, how your workplace is designed to facilitate collaboration enables you to guide behaviours in alignment with this. Do you have spaces that allow the team to come together to creatively problem solve, or are they squashed into a small meeting room when it’s time to collaborate?
Well-designed workplaces will offer a range of spaces that allow employees to change the way they work – both physically and mentally. The different spaces should support a variety of tasks, activities, postures and mental energy needs.
Sitting at a desk all day can not only wreak havoc physically, but it also doesn’t allow for the change in energy and shift in focus that you need when you are performing different tasks.
For optimal work, we need different spaces that connect us to different work modalities and help individuals to transition their mental focus and physical posture. Each organisation will differ but the most common spaces include quiet, collaborative, standing, lounging and bump spaces.
Wherever people meet and interact a community is formed, and in this case, that place happens to be at work.
Unfortunately there is still some objection around the need to have “social” spaces at work, with the opinion of some executives that if you’re “socializing” at work then you’re not working. The truth is that as humans we are hard-wired with a desire for connection and a need to belong.
By creating workplaces that encourage socialization we enable cross-collaboration which in turn can support us to develop more meaningful connections with those that we work with. These connections help us to establish trust, organisation and team loyalty and ultimately laying the foundations for building high performing teams.
Workspaces are much more than the buildings we go to, or the furniture we sit on. Your workplace is an opportunity to create an environment that radiates the values and culture of your organisation. It is an opportunity to influence the way that people interact and engage in your space and how that behaviour aligns with your organisation. It’s a space that connect us to our organisations, our communities, our tribes. Our places to connect and feel like we belong, to build & strengthen relationships, to focus us on our purpose.