With over a year having now past since we were first thrust into a new world of homeworking, lockdowns, and social restrictions, we’re now at a point where the abnormal has become (dare I say it) the ‘new normal’ for most of us, but what will the workplace look like when we all return? With so many predictions and theories on the subject, it seems many organisations are still lacking clarity as to what their workplaces will really look like in the months to come.

Habit Action are delighted to be a part of Tenant Talks, a speaker series on the future of workplaces. In the first UK Tenant Talks event, Habit Action called on 4 industry leaders from across the UK and Europe to find out what the post-covid workplace looks like to them (view full playback). This event not only challenged predictions, but it also gave real-time insights into how each of the 4 companies are adapting their workspaces for the future. Here are just a few of the key insights they shared:

  • I get a little concerned when I hear people talk about the workplace only being a collaborative space in the future, the physical workspace. I think it’s very short-sighted.

Darren Graver, Office Expansions Lead at Wise, challenged this concept that has become common in many of the return to the workplace discussions across the industry. If we take a typical working day, we do not solely collaborate for 7 and a half hours. Everyone needs to have some focussed heads down time and even just that 5-minute break for coffee. This is where agile, activity-based working comes to the fore. Giving employees the choice of different zones within the workspace will help maximise productivity by choosing which environment works best for their role, their mood and even the specific task they are working on that day.

  • We are human beings. We are social animals. We have the need to connect. And that in our professional environment leads directly to more creativity and ultimately more productivity.

One of the biggest challenges faced by many of us in our professional lives over the past few months has been the lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues and clients. Angel Mieites, Director of Workplace and Facilities in Europe for Veeva Systems summed it up perfectly in the quote above. So, how do we use the workspace to maximise the social connections between us? Having an open plan work environment can play a big part in this by encouraging cross team collaboration and removing physical barriers between people. Whilst this style might not be appropriate for all types of companies, ensuring you have designated collaboration areas within your workspace is absolutely critical. Take a look at Veeva Systems HQ in Oxford: a great example of using the space you have to cater for all types of working activities right across the team.

  • I’ve never seen a business owner turn round and complain about how much square footage a person is getting. I think now it’ll be more around the health and safety of that employee and then how productive they are in the space.

This quote from Lewis Baker from ServiceNow is spot on! With the implications social distancing has had on the workplace, it’s not just going to come down to square footage per person. A creative approach is needed to maximise the productivity of your space whilst ensuring it is safe. Habit Action believe whole heartedly that investing in your workplace is a direct investment in your people. Rather than working out the quare footage per employee, it is also very insightful breaking down overall refurbishment cost per employee, per day over the course of 3 years to see how much you are directly investing in your staff through your workspace. The results can be very enlightening and helps to give you a different perspective on your investment!

  • My advice to companies out there that are thinking about their future workplace strategy is don’t fixate so much on cutting space, because your space might go down but what about your headcount that’s going up?

This quote from Darren really speaks for itself. For some companies, since the pandemic hit there has been a knee jerk reaction to cut down on space just because you don’t have people in the office right now. If your company is experiencing growth in staff or you plan to expand your headcount, now is not the time to be making drastic cuts on your office space. Think long-term with your workplace strategy to ensure your workspace isn’t the thing holding your company back from its next phase of growth.

  • In our view, I think what is really critical in our path to success is having to embrace the employee experience at the centre of everything.

Rares Miron’s statement about how the team at Citrix view their path to success is so important. Out of all the return to the workplace trends, having an employee-centric approach to your workplace is one of the most widely acknowledged trends. Taking the time to discover what it is your staff need and how they work best before redesigning your workspace has become increasingly essential as our ways of working have so drastically changed as a result of the pandemic. Don’t just assume you know what your staff want, ask! Habit Action specialises in extracting the data and insights you need from your staff to inspire creativity and design spaces that not only look beautiful but truly deliver on making your space productive right across the team. Learn more about our offering here.

  • If you go to a grocery store and you don’t like it, you’ll just go somewhere else. Why would you expect people to come into a workplace and not get a great experience from it to react any different?

This analogy used by Darren Graver simply yet effectively explains the power your workplace has over attracting and retaining top talent. If people don’t get that great experience from your workspace, it’s not going to be somewhere they want to stay for the long-term. Using an effective workplace strategy to help define what kind of talent you would like to attract and retain within your organisation; helps you define who you are now but more importantly who you want to be in the future.

Here at Habit Action, we’ve developed our own workplace strategy process. Our unique evidence based design methodology helps you to gain a detailed knowledge what is happening in your workplace and discover the best ways of working for your organisation. Our unique research methods take a holistic view of your workspace, enabling you to truly understand your team’s daily activities and challenges.

To discuss this in more detail with one of our workspace experts, call us on +44(0)20 8991 6057 or email us to book a call at a time that fits in with your schedule.

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