December 30, 2022
By James Rossell
The traditional office model has changed, and the reality is, employers across Europe are recognising that they need to cater for different types of employees within their workplace. Whether we like it or not, the world is now dominated by remote working, and the typical 9-5 in the office is no longer acceptable for many professionals worldwide.
The “way” that people work has never changed so much in such a short space of time and forward-thinking businesses are adapting to the needs of their employees to drive the best possible results.
This isn’t about fighting the old, it’s about embracing the new, and in 2023 that means focusing on delivering a positive and social working environment that puts employee needs first.
Flexible Working Is Here to Stay
It is essential for businesses to recognise that whilst some elements of a role are best completed in the office, others are best done at home. Companies must provide staff with the freedom to work where they want, when they want. Depending on someone’s role within an organisation, they need the right space to function at their best and by simply providing staff the choice of where they can work, businesses are often rewarded with greater results, with employees not only becoming more productive, but also more engaged.
Meeting the needs of every employee is fundamental for success. To achieve this, organisations should be investing in office spaces that foster collaboration and engagement to bring the best out of their people.
One way in which this can be achieved is by designing task-specific spaces within the office — all created with the purpose of catering to different employees. For instance, Zoom rooms are specially made to engage staff with those both in the office and at home, providing them with the best possible environment to work collaboratively.
Meanwhile, other areas such as board meeting rooms and training rooms are designed with productivity in mind. Additionally, employees also might want to escape from work during their breaks and by providing a range of wellness rooms, employers can allow them to separate themselves and move into a different headspace when required.
Fostering a Positive Employee Culture
Staff shouldn’t feel as though they’re being forced to come into the office, as this can create a negative mindset where employees associate work with something they don’t want to do. Instead, employees should feel enticed to go into the office and, more importantly, they should be able to feel as though they have made that choice themselves. This is a subtle distinction, but the effects are significant, and it means that employees will be more likely to arrive at work with a positive attitude, with the benefit of business performance that follows
Organisations should also cater to every employee, especially younger staff members who are at the beginning of their careers and who might still be living with parents, in houses of multiple occupancy or in small apartments. These young professionals, who don’t yet have the luxury of being able to work from a study or office at home, might have to find alternative places, such as their beds or even dining tables, to be able to work from home.
According to Mind (PDF), nearly three-quarters (74%) of people aged 18-24 said their mental health had declined during the COVID-19 lockdowns. This can partially be attributed to them not having access to a designated workspace. However, by encouraging staff into the office, where they can work professionally on an equal footing with their colleagues, employers will create separation between their work life and home environment. While this is vital for the well-being of their younger workforce, for employers, it creates an opportunity to capitalise on the energy that younger team members can bring to the company, eager to impress, with less “organisational bias” attached to their ideas.
Familiarity: The Key to Success
Offices within an organisation should feel familiar but also different from each other and promote the local and unique culture of its location within the office space. By incorporating a range of decorative pieces that highlight local history or beliefs, or specific items that make a particular city or town unique, the office itself will become a more familiar and welcoming space. Staff can feel the comforts of home without being at home. It is this familiarity that will create a sense of belonging and foster an environment where people work at their best.
Employees will also gain a better understanding of the values of the businesses and how it functions. This familiarity can be furthered within the office space by making small changes, such as providing more open areas to encourage spontaneous meetings, or whiteboards in public spaces, in case a creative idea comes to mind. Moreover, creating office spaces which are culturally familiar allows managers and leaders within an organisation to work, inspire and motivate from anywhere.
Future of Work
Inflationary pressures and geo-political conflicts have caused uncertainty amongst business within Europe, highlighting the need for the leaders of companies to provide an office space that staff feel enticed and safe to work in. By implementing dedicated areas, such as wellness and training rooms, and by promoting a positive employee culture — all underpinned by providing staff with freedom and flexibility — teams are more motivated, engaged and productive. In turn, businesses are rewarded with greater results as well as a workforce that feels loyal to the business and that is truly dedicated to delivering the best outcomes.
James Rossell is chief operating officer at Pax8 EMEA, where he supports international growth, incubating business functions by building for scale and operational independence. A principal consultant behind the “modern workplace” concept, he works with leadership teams to help businesses develop a tech strategy and culture that empowers employees and drives growth. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @PAX8EMEA on Twitter.
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