WORKPLACE STRATEGY GUIDE

Where to begin with Workplace Strategy: What to know before you start

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists - hb-reavis-offices-london Office Snapshots

If you’re a leader, manager, or run a workplace, odds are you’re familiar with disruption. You’ve likely come into contact with it more and more in the last few years because of social crises and the biggest threat to public health in recent memory. Meaning you’ve had to spend time and energy designing remote and hybrid working models, toiling over how to retain your best talent, and simply how to keep your people safe, engaged and productive.

The challenges keep coming thick and often and you realise now, more than ever, the need to inspire and support your people so you can all keep thriving. Striking the right balance will help you create the kind of sustained outcomes to benefit your company and workforce. Establishing that balance takes a lot of intentionality, and importantly, strategy.

The most efficient, peak performing, and engaged workplaces are often a result of a carefully structured workplace strategy — an integrated system of space, technology, and HR policies that enables your people to produce their best work, wherever they do it, to improve operational efficiency.

Any change without planning can get messy, quickly. Workplace strategy helps you connect the dots between your business goals and what your employees need to drive toward them. While this type of strategy has existed in the past, it holds much more weight and complexity today. Because a ‘workplace strategy’ is no longer a simple alignment of work patterns within work environments to boost performance and limit cost. It’s become much more.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast ”
— Peter Drucker

What is Workplace Strategy?

84% of male full-time workers and 91% of female full-time workers either have the ability to work flexibly or would like to.  Others — 43% — prefer to work in the office full-time. It’s understandable then, that leaders are yo-yoing with workplace strategies that will make the most of both worlds. They’re toiling over the fact that one month the office could be flooded with people the next there’ll be a drought. How then, do you provide the best working conditions to create balance? Assuming the likelihood of your company having a demographic of people who want to come into the office half the time is high, then adopting a solid workplace strategy is relevant and necessary.

“A workplace strategy aligns your organisation’s work patterns with the work environment to encourage high-performance, reduce costs, and improve employee experience in a sustainable way.”
— Miro Miroslavov, CEO OfficeRnD

It allows you to plan, design, and implement a framework so employees can work effectively together in any environment. It fully leverages the role the workplace experience has for your employees while taking things like your mission, vision, values and company goals into account. In essence, its aim is to establish a consistent and equitable employee experience, regardless of location, including access to the space and technology your team needs to perform.

There’s much more to strategic workplace design than simply optimising your space, furniture or layout. It involves pulling together information from across the company  — IT, HR, Finance, Staff etc —and evaluating the data to ensure the current structure, culture and processes of your business reflect the needs of those working there. Importantly, there are no right or wrong strategies, only weak or strong ones. Each will be unique to the organisation that creates it.

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists - Office Snapshots — han-spaces-coworking-offices-istanbul

The Benefits of Workplace Strategy

It goes without saying that virtually any major workplace strategy change wouldn’t take place without the promise of some financial benefit. Yet the pros of an effective workplace strategy stretch far beyond cost savings. Here are a few other benefits you might experience after implementing your strategy:

  • Attract and retain top-talent
  • Optimising available space, eliminating ‘dead’ areas
  • Improve output and performance
  • Improve collaboration and teamwork
  • Enhance employee wellbeing and experience
  • Build a sustainable and responsible organisation
  • Adapt to changing business needs
  • Reduce costs

What’s driving demand for workplace strategy?

In the past, companies didn’t have to think much about workplace strategy. At least not to the complexities they have to today. Mostly because everyone was under one roof, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. But hybrid working, among other influences, has changed that. Here are some drivers behind the demand for a strategy refresh:

Keeping employees happy and engaged

Flexibility is the word. By offering choice for employees to work from any setting you enhance their experience and increase your image as a desirable employer. Not to mention it helps cater to both their personal and professional needs. They can organise days at home around personal matters, while still maintaining visibility in the workplace. An element many account to being necessary for career growth. A flexible workplace strategy allows you to be adaptable to suit your needs at any  given time. When employee wellbeing is supported, overall happiness and job satisfaction improves. Staff are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to be loyal to the company they work for. Meaning your company can march confident into the future. Agile work models, continuous employee support, implementation of technology are all ways to keep your business in best shape for the future.

Achieve more with less

Taking stock of those wanting to work on a hybrid schedule and those occupying the office more frequently can help you optimise your space and reduce costs. Budgets are tight and it’s needless to waste money on excessive energy bills or real estate costs.

Surge of remote and hybrid working and the need for technology to accommodate that in a productive, meaningful way:

It’s hard to feel engaged with a company when your only connection to them is through a computer screen. A hybrid model delivers the best of at home and at the office working. We need to ensure employees have secure access to everything they need on the move as well as a productive space to land in when they travel to work.

Effective use of space

We’re in a constant state of flux. It’s no longer palatable to maintain a static workplace. We need to adopt an agile approach to our environment so our space can mould with our needs. After all, form follows function. Give employees choice and flexibility of where they work in the office — focus pods, brainstorm booths, soft seating, collaboration areas, for example. The best way to know what to implement? Ask your employees. They’ll give you feedback on what they need which you can then use as a basis for planning your space. You’ll be able to cut out ‘dead areas’ and soon be on route to an effective and efficient workplace.

It’s then about considering elements like maximising natural light, introducing biophilia, assessing the acoustic properties, lighting control, temperature control, way-finding signage, aiding accessibility and so it goes on.

Future proofing

Speaking about the ever changing, fluid nature of the office landscape, we get an exciting glimpse into the potential future of the workplace. Without getting too far into the weeds we think the following are things to consider when looking at future proofing your space:

Collaboration tools: Investing in the correct technology can make remote meetings feel more like face-to-face conversations. As tools continue to evolve we’ll likely see a more seamless experience in social connectivity in the workplace that transcends geographical constraints.

Smart workplaces will continue to use the Internet of Things for efficiency, sustainability and wellbeing. Think smart lighting, sensors, mobile applications, and integrations with building management systems to optimise the office experience for employees. People can use these systems to book rooms for impromptu meetings, locate colleagues, and find relevant facilities. Sensors can help you understand employee behaviour meaning you can adapt your workplace almost immediately. Your tech can help you get the best use of your space.

Sustainable building practices are and will continue to be integral to employee wellbeing. Not only that, monitoring your Environmental Social Governance (ESG) metrics — things like capacity usage, waste management, energy efficiency — can help you slash your carbon footprint and enhance overall productivity.

Sustainability

Sustainability isn’t something you ‘do’ for the sake of it. It’s about making considered choices in the workplace to show you genuinely care about our environment and you want to minimise your impact on it. There are simple steps you can take to put your dedication into practice and ensure your office complies with sustainability legislation. From ‘green’ or recycled materials to the use of smart LED lights, to having waste management facilities on-site and tracking occupancy rates to see where you can be more energy efficient. Also keep in mind things like reducing use of disposable plastics, adopting a life-cycle mindset — buy things that are built to last, partnering and volunteering with local environmental charities, and, going simple, get a plant or two — something so easy can create a calm and happier environment and serve a useful function by absorbing toxins from the air. Our planet is our business, it’s good to bear that in mind when laying out your workplace strategy.

Another bonus of being more sustainability minded is, employees want to work for people and organisations that align with their personal values. They’ll rally around companies that take purposeful action on ethical questions like sustainability. Your alignment with their values becomes their commitment to furthering your goals. As a result, your workplace strategy should consider sustainable design where possible. This not only keeps your employees inspired, but can save you a penny or two as well. Tracking the key workplace metrics, such as capacity, density, cost per seat, and more, serves to keep your space as sustainable as possible. Don’t keep this information behind lock and key either, report it and share with employees and stakeholders so your people know the efforts your company is making to maintain high ESG standards.

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists - Office Snapshots — goguardian-offices-el-segundo

Fundamentals of Workplace Strategy

Before you outline your strategy, there are some fundamentals to consider:

Spacing and Layout

Effective space planning is like a secret handshake between your business culture and business goals. By organising your physical space and allocating areas for individual work, team meetings, and collaborative sessions, you optimise the efficiency, functionality and flexibility of your office. Your workspace needs to be laid out with what matters most to your business’s success at the helm. One day that could be about collaboration and brainstorming, the next it’s about focused work and acting on the results of those sessions. Plan and layout your space with these in mind.

Goals, objectives and data driven decisions

Frame your strategy around goals and objectives that make sense for your business. The design should take them into account and contribute to your team’s performance. To eliminate any guess work, base your decisions on data. This allows your strategy to stand on reliable fact and goal driven information. Measure against these too. Set up KPIs around employee engagement, experience, feedback, satisfaction to help see how your strategy is contributing to your overall goals.

Technology Infrastructure

An effective workplace strategy must take into account the technology infrastructure needed to to support work processes. It’s important that technology can be easily accessed from anywhere meaning the necessary hardware, software, and network infrastructure is in place to support communication, and productivity.

HR Management/Employee needs

You get a diverse and brilliant range of people in every office space. Each of them offers something unique and has their own ways of working. Creating an environment that supports them can foster better performance, collaboration, creativity and energy. It’s good to educate your people on how best to use the space you create so they know exactly where they need to be to do their best work. This type of training and support is necessary to beat back the challenge of retaining talent. A good thing to note here is optimising your workplace strategy to cater to a neurodiverse workforce. By that we mean there are likely employees with conditions such as ASD, ADHD, and dyslexia. In fact reports show that 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent. meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently. Embrace the concept of neurodiversity and you’ll make your office a more inclusive and supportive environment for all staff members.

Culture

As is with all effective strategies, they begin and end with your company’s identity. Tying in your values and culture is a foolproof way to ensure your strategy reflects the personality and culture you want to convey as a business. Create harmony between the two and you’ll have a lasting positive impression throughout the workplace.

Knowing this gives you a strong base knowledge of what’s required when tackling your own workplace strategy. As you can see, there’s a lot to digest and understand which can be overwhelming. To help with that there will be a second part to this series where we take you through an 8 step process to creating an effective workplace strategy — from discovering your goals, to implementation. It’s a thorough guide that will be dropping soon. Sign up to our newsletter to get an update when it has been released.

Or, if you’d prefer to talk to our team about how can help you with your strategy you can reach out at +44 (0)2894 425 200 or drop us a note hello@calibroworkspace.com

 

Image Sources: Office Snapshots

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