The hybrid workplace and employee experience: choice matters
What do the hybrid workplace and employee experience have in common? Employers are adopting the hybrid workplace to enhance flexibility and choice, resulting in a better employee experience.
Now more than ever, employers are embracing a variety of new models, creating a hybrid workplace that provides flexibility and choice to employees. As virtual fatigue sets in and the newness of remote work fades away, employees want to return to the office, as long as it is safe to do so. And employers, aware of the importance of employee experience, are preparing their offices to welcome them back.
That said, working from home during the pandemic has given employees much more freedom in determining when, where and how they work. While they may be excited to return to the office, they also don’t want to relinquish their new freedom.
Going forward, employers that want to stay competitive will have to put employee experience first. This must include empowering employees with more say in when, where, and how they perform their duties.
In this article, we explore the importance of the employee experience and how employers are adopting hybrid workplace models to enhance flexibility and choice.
The new employee experience
COVID-19 has shown us that the workplace of the future will have to be safe, flexible, and hybrid. New data is also suggesting that many employees are getting restless in their current positions, and that companies will have to improve employee experience if they want to keep their best talent.
Smart employers are now preparing for what experts are calling a ‘turnover tsunami,’ with 52% of those currently employed looking for new job opportunities. Workers are feeling burnt out, and remote work means they’re no longer limited by geographic constraints, making new job opportunities much more appealing.
To combat this looming turnover, employers are actively seeking ways to improve employee experience. This means they’re examining the total sum of an employee’s experience. This includes how they feel about their job and their relationships with colleagues and superiors. Workplace culture, the physical work environment and how engaged and appreciated they feel are all important components of employee experience.
Note that employee experience is not just about salary. A new Gallup report found that most employees list greater work-life balance and personal wellbeing as being “very important”.
So how to prepare for the turnover tsunami? Choice. Post-pandemic, workers want to keep their new-found freedom as much as possible.
In fact, according to a new survey by LinkedIn, employees rank flexibility as their highest priority—both in hours and work location. Perhaps not surprisingly, flexibility outranked both benefits and salary.
The hybrid workplace solution
Because of the importance of employee experience and these new expectations, employers are looking to hybrid workplace models. The hybrid workplace and employee experience go hand in hand, providing flexibility and employee choice. There are many different models of work that fit into the hybrid workplace:
For example, activity-based working (ABW) can make for happier employees. ABW creates adaptable workspaces where flexibility and collaboration are necessary. Instead of being chained to one set desk, activity-based workplaces let the work dictate the workflow. This encourages movement throughout the day, keeping employees more productive and on task.
Similarly, taking advantage of office neighborhoods can make it much easier to manage flexible workers. This also gives employees more say in where they sit and how they work while they’re at the office. In this scenario, organizing the office would relate to specific departments, activities and job functions. Employees are assigned to these ‘neighborhoods’ instead of to desks. In team-managed neighborhoods, employees are empowered with managing seat assignments, moves and booking. Not only do employees appreciate the greater autonomy, but they are also usually more knowledgeable about who should sit where.
Agile working is another office-based approach that puts employees front and center. This model empowers people to let them decide when, where and how they work. Employees are allowed to choose what makes them most productive and adjust themselves accordingly.
Hybrid workplaces that want to allow employees to rotate between in-office and remote work can choose to implement shift work. This places employees in regularly rotating groups.
The hybrid workplace and employee experience
Hybrid models like these work well because when managed properly, they can increase productivity and connectivity. This leads to happier employees and a better employee experience.
And hybrid models can work best when employees are given a say in when and how they work. Allowing for greater flexibility can improve retention, attract more and better talent, increase diversity and productivity, and drive employee engagement. Remember that turnover tsunami? A recent survey finds that 81% of respondents would be more loyal to their company if they had flexible work options. This gives employers insight into what matters most to most employees.
Couple that with 80% of workers reporting they’d choose a job with a flexible schedule over one without one. Another survey finds job seekers are willing to take up to 8% less pay if it means more flexible scheduling. With this information, you can begin to see why employers are clamoring to offer their workers greater choice and flexibility.
Optimizing the hybrid workplace and employee experience
Of course, the more flexibility employees have in a hybrid workplace, the more effective companies and facilities teams have to be to keep everything running smoothly. To improve employee experience, employers will have to utilize modern tools to organize their modern office. According to OfficeSpace CEO David Cocchiara, “companies that embrace technology to help them prepare for the new dynamic workplace will find they have happier and more engaged employees who feel safe and comfortable in the workplace.”
Specifically, employers should consider updating their digital architecture in 5 key areas:
1. Desk booking & flexible seating
As employees rotate and share seats, offices will need a plan for flexible seating. Seating must be safe and socially distanced, as well as efficient and easy for employees to use. For these reasons, facilities managers can create a much more orderly hybrid office when they provide intuitive desk booking software. This makes it simple to find, book and check into desks in real time.
Dedicating desk space for specific departments, activities, or job functions to an office neighborhood is a great way to maximize hybrid spaces. Neighborhoods can make it much easier to adapt entire offices to hybrid work. This eliminates the painstaking admin involved in setting up desk permissions and managing bookings.
3. Interactive floor plans
In a world where employees aren’t coming into the office every day, they’ll need a wayfinding system that lets them find who and what they need, when they need it. Creating a robust Visual Directory® can save time and dramatically improve employee experience.
Flexible employees need flexible tools, and all employees need easy access to their workplace and colleagues, no matter where they are. That’s why hybrid offices need mobile-friendly software. Employees need to book rooms and desks, connect with colleagues, send requests, see changes in the workplace, and stay safe and informed, wherever they are.
The greatest software solutions in the world won’t increase productivity if they don’t work together, or aren’t accessible. To create the best employee experience, workplace management software needs to integrate with the tools your team relies on like Slack and Teams.
Ultimately, an effective hybrid workplace is one where every employee can easily access the resources they need to stay productive. Along with greater choice, ensuring everyone has the tools to perform their job is a key way to improve employee experience.
The choice for the hybrid workplace is clear
Employees want safety and more flexibility. As we return to the office, the choice is clear: the hybrid workplace and employee experience should be paramount. Thankfully, using the right tools, employers can create an efficient hybrid workplace with the flexible employee experience their people want.