On May 26, experts from Propmodo, NYU, Robert Half, and JLL gathered to share their insights and experience on best practices for building a workplace strategy. It was lively and informative—even one of the panelist’s dogs briefly chimed in.
Here are six tips for crafting your workplace strategy.
1. Plan for extreme flexibility
Companies are struggling with managing the volatility and inconsistency of office use by employees, making it impossible to plan for office space. Space itself is going to change. It will be more technologically enabled than before and driven largely by employee behavior.
Brian Schwagerl, professor at the Schack Institute of Real Estate at NYU, added: “The design of the office will evolve very differently” than it has in the past.
2. Assemble a workplace experience team.
In the past, workplace planning was largely the purview of facilities management and corporate real estate. Now, organizations need to know: Who’s coming to the office? What are they doing while they’re there? What sensors and technologies will track space use and occupancy? What value are workers getting from the workplace?
This is where IT and HR can provide valuable insight.
“In addition to those to those groups, you’re seeing a lot more companies put investment into teams like workplace experience teams, employee experience teams,” said Lynn Patzner, global account director for JLL Technologies.
3. Understand how tech-mature your workplace is
“Where are you at in your maturity curve—where are you at in your workplace strategy?” asked Patzner. “Which steps do you take?”
Technology now has an even greater meaning than before within the company culture itself. It’s imperative that you know where your organization stands when it comes to tech maturity. If you’re not providing consumer-like tools and tech support, workers will get frustrated, and they’ll move on to another company that’s more technologically adept.
“Where are you at in your maturity curve—where are you at in your workplace strategy?”
4. Entice people to come to the office
During lockdowns, knowledge workers proved that they could work effectively from home. That efficiency, plus long commutes and lack of family or pet care (among other factors) are tough to overcome. To draw people in, leverage technology, space design, and collaboration. Offer “touchdown spaces,” where employees can work from their laptops. These can be private rooms, lounges, conference rooms, etc. Additionally, amenities spaces and relaxation spaces will be attractive to people who’ve been staring at the same four walls for two years.
“It’s a competitive market right now, particularly for the best and the brightest—and particularly for that next generation coming out of college that will be recruited to another firm if you’re not able to compete,” said Schwagerl.
5. Ensure worker health and safety
“One issue we haven’t talked about is: Are we feeling safe in a pandemic to go back to the office?” asked Vidyasagar. “How clean is the air that’s being circulated? How washed-down are the doorknobs and other materials in the office?”
Deploy touchless technologies at entrances and elevators. Automate workspace and room cleaning. Continuously monitor air quality with sensors that send alerts when there’s a problem. These efforts make your office more marketable to current—and future—employees.
6. Develop a tech roadmap and ensure your tech stack integrates and is scalable
“We were using software to solve specific problems. We would solve for problem X and solve for problem Y with two different technologies,” said Mahesh Vidyasagar, global real estate at Robert Half. “We could not derive [from the] data to make foundational decisions.”
Take a step back, and consider the technologies that are the backbone of your office. Evaluate your tech stack through the lens of workplace strategy. If you have a lot of point solutions, do they integrate? Do you have the ability to scale those solutions as your organization scales? Then, work with an expert to devise a roadmap to answer a fundamental question.
“How can your technology stack scale with you, grow with you, change with you as you change as a business?”
Meet the rapid changes brought on by COVID with a forward-thinking, tech-enabled workplace strategy. Want to know how? Watch the on-demand webinar.