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How Activity-based Working can Help you Solve the Hybrid Work Challenge

Hiring and retaining the right people for your company is becoming increasingly hard in today’s landscape.

The pandemic brought down physical barriers and people can now choose from workplaces all over the world. New work horizons, alongside factors like job dissatisfaction and wage stagnation, led to the Great Resignation — a massive wave of employee resignations starting in 2021.

Historically, companies and business leaders have focused excessively on customer experience (as they should). However, a great customer experience doesn’t happen out of the blue — it’s made possible by motivated, engaged, and properly trained employees.

This, alongside the Great Resignation, is forcing many businesses to take a closer look at the other side of the coin — their workplace experience.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about workplace experience, including:

Let’s get started.

What is Workplace Experience?

Workplace experience is the sum of all touchpoints employees have with the workplace environment. This environment includes 3 components — the physical office, digital workplace, and the workforce — as well as the relationship between them.

Workplace Experience Elements Physical Digital Workforce

Some companies also use the term employee experience instead of workplace experience to describe the same thing. However, workplace experience puts more emphasis on the additional aspects for getting quality work done, like flexibility, physical spaces, and digital tooling.

To truly understand workplace experience, we need to take a holistic approach when looking at these 3 components and consider how they overlap. This is especially important in hybrid work environments, where people work partly in the office and partly remotely.

As Brent Hyder, President and Chief People Officer at Salesforce, said:

An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.

As an example, let’s take one of the most important employee experience perks — flexibility. The pandemic resulted in flexibility becoming one of the most important perks for job candidates. However, offering options for flexible working (like fully remote or hybrid work) has implications for all three components:

  1. The physical workplace becomes more unpredictable, as not everyone works there 9 to 5, all week. As a result, the need to reserve a desk and see who else will be in the office arises naturally, especially with unassigned seating (i.e., hot desking or desk hoteling).
  2. The digital workplace becomes just as important as the physical office. Employees need to have easy access to all necessary tools to do their best work on any device, from any location.
  3. The workforce is also affected as teams become more dispersed. This means you’ll need a strong company culture and evaluation systems focused on results and performance, so employees are guaranteed equal opportunities, regardless of where they choose to work from.

As you can see, workplace experience can get quite complex in today’s environment. Companies are scrambling to get the hang of it while rethinking their entire hiring, onboarding, and employee retention strategies.

It’s also telling that among LinkedIn’s 25 jobs on the rise in the US, 3 are directly responsible for ensuring a great workplace experience — Diversity and Inclusion Manager (№2), Talent Acquisition Specialist (№12), and Chief Human Resources Officer (№25)

The Benefits of Providing a Great Workplace Experience

While a great workplace experience can offer tons of different benefits, the following 3 are vital for pretty much every organization out there.

More (and easier) hiring opportunities

Clearly, everyone wants to work for a company that cares about workplace experience.

That’s why companies are including more and more components of the workplace experience as part of their employee value proposition.

Again, going back to flexibility, LinkedIn data suggests that employees are 2.1 times more likely to recommend working for a company that satisfies their need for time and location flexibility. Besides workplace experience, this also affects hiring strategies and budgets, since recommendations and referrals are a much easier and cheaper way to fill positions.

The result of this trend is a 343% increase in mentions of flexibility in company posts since 2019, according to LinkedIn’s research.

Higher employee engagement and retention

Low employee productivity, engagement, and retention are natural consequences of a poor workplace experience.

You likely won’t be too motivated to work at a company that doesn’t offer a comfortable place to get your work done (physical component), easy access to the tools you need (digital component), or has a poor culture (workforce component).

In contrast, excelling in workplace experience is a great way to ensure people are more engaged at work and reduce turnover. This also benefits your clients, as employee experiences directly affect client experiences.

As this Harvard Business Review article correctly notes:

From now on, leading-edge companies—whether they sell to consumers or businesses—will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences.

More efficient space usage and lower real estate costs

Human-centered workplace design is a pillar of successful workplaces.

As we said, people expect flexibility, which entails offering remote work options while also creating workspaces that suit their needs for collaboration and teamwork, as well as seclusion.

For most companies, this means implementing unassigned seating via desk hoteling, for example. Desk hoteling allows businesses to allocate office space efficiently, which translates to improved occupancy, a greater variety of spaces dedicated to different purposes (office neighborhoods), as well as reduced desk vacancy.

And with more efficient space usage come opportunities for reducing real estate costs.

5 Best Practices for Improving Your Workplace Experience

Before we dive into the specific, please note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to workplace experience.

What we’re describing here isn’t a linear process that you should blindly follow step by step. Instead, these 5 best practices should be treated as a starting point, upon which you can customize the process based on your needs and company culture.

1. Talk to your employees

The first step to most workplace initiatives is to talk to your employees.

This can be done via surveys, 1-on-1 interviews, or even in all-hands meetings. Your goal here is to figure out what employees are struggling with and identify areas for improvement.

Some questions you should try to answer at this stage:

  • Does the office satisfy everyone’s work needs?
  • Are work schedules flexible enough to accommodate people’s personal and professional needs?
  • Do people have access to the right tools and physical spaces to get their work done?
  • Do team members feel like they’re collaborating enough with their colleagues and managers?
  • What else can the company do to ensure a more positive experience for employees?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Companies with different work models should also add other relevant questions. For example, if you recently transitioned to a hybrid work model, you should add questions regarding the transition and the way you’ve organized desk sharing.

2. Make someone (or an entire team) responsible for workplace experience

Traditionally, employee engagement and experience programs have been helmed by HR departments.

But as companies start realizing the importance of workplace experience in a competitive job market, they’re also seeing the need to separate the workplace experience function.

Some companies hire Workplace Experience Managers, Employee Experience Managers, or even, Chief Employee Experience Officers. The idea is to have someone (or a group of people) responsible for overseeing, improving, and reporting on the workplace experience process.

Also, remember that workplace experience starts during the hiring process, so don’t forget to re-think your recruitment practices if needed.

3. Invest in a Workplace Experience Platform

As we said, workplace experience is all about 3 components — the physical office, digital workplace, and the workforce — and the connections between them.

On that note, technology can help you bridge all 3 components, ensure a seamless experience, and boost employee engagement. For example, here’s how a workplace experience platform can help bring people together in vibrant, collaborative, and flexible workplaces:

  • First, you can let employees book desks, meeting rooms, conference rooms, and other types of space via web and mobile apps, or even directly in Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Slack, and Google Calendar.
  • You can easily communicate company benefits, events, and policies to everyone.
  • You can also streamline facility requests and ticket management, making it much easier for your employees to report issues and track their resolution.

OfficeRnD Hybrid also offers lots of other capabilities, which you can learn about here.

4. Ensure cross-team collaboration between HR, IT Operations, Security, and Facility teams

This process will look different depending on your organization’s size. But in any case, improving workplace experience will likely require cross-team collaboration.

HR teams are typically responsible for building and maintaining company policies, collecting employee feedback, and making sure new hires are settled into the organization.

Obviously, this has massive implications for workplace experience. That’s why the HR department is usually the first one to start considering workplace experience strategies.

IT Operations and Security teams also have to be deeply involved in the process, especially when implementing flexible work arrangements. Your digital tools and services have to be useful and easy to access, but also secure, regardless of where employees decide to work from.

Lastly, Facility teams are another vital piece of the puzzle, as they take care of everything related to the company’s physical spaces.

5. Measure workplace experience and reiterate accordingly

The biggest reason we started this list with the suggestion to talk to your employees is so you can have a baseline.

That way, you can know whether your workplace experience initiatives are moving in the right direction. However, you should also go further and set specific workplace experience goals, KPIs, and metrics.

For example, the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a common way to evaluate the employee experience. ENPS measures how likely employees are to recommend your company as a good place to work.

It’s easy to calculate since employees only have to answer one question — “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company as a place to work?. It’s also a decent gauge of workplace experience — if the eNPS is increasing, you’re likely doing something right with regards to the employee experience.

Another crucial factor to measure is workplace utilization. For that, OfficeRnD Hybrid’s Advanced Workspace Analytics allows you to monitor space usage and understand how teams are utilizing your office.

This data becomes the foundation for future iterations. For example, you might see that some areas of the office are barely used, while others are constantly crowded. In these cases, re-designing the underutilized spaces to fit specific work needs (which you can uncover by talking to employees) can be a good strategy.

Boost Employee Engagement and Improve Workplace Experience With OfficeRnD Hybrid

As you can see, there’s lots to think about when it comes to workplace experience. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, workplace technology should be at the core of creating and consistently delivering an exceptional experience.

On that note, if you’re looking for a workplace experience platform to help you bring people together in collaborative flexible spaces, check out OfficeRnD Hybrid.

You can try the platform for free with a 14-day trial (no credit card required) or book a demo with our team.

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