Hiring and retaining the right people has never been easy.

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 — motivated, engaged, and properly trained employees make it possible.

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

In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “What is workplace experience?” and explore its importance, benefits, and best practices.


Quick Summary

  • Workplace experience describes the way employees experience and interact with the physical surroundings, the digital work environment, and the workplace culture.
  • Positive workplace experiences can boost employee engagement, increase employee engagement, and improve talent retention, ultimately leading to better business outcomes and strengthening company culture.
  • Understanding how employees feel, hiring a workplace experience manager, and implementing the right workplace technology can help employees perform more meaningful work and contribute to a company’s overall success.

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 three components — the physical office, the 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 of getting quality work done, like flexibility, physical space, and digital tooling.

Why Is Workplace Experience Important?

To truly understand workplace experience and why it’s important, we need to take a holistic approach when looking at these three 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.”

Considering that many employees can now work from wherever they want, it’s more important than ever to deliver a positive workplace experience if you still want them to work in the office. And, as you’ll see below, a positive workplace experience involves much more than table games and free food.

A Positive vs Negative Employee Experience

Do you ever read reviews on websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor? You know, the ones that lambast poor company culture, a toxic work environment, and a lack of meaningful work?

Well, all those reviews are the result of employee experiences.

When employees have positive experiences working at a company, they’ll typically rate that company highly. On the other hand, when their experiences are negative, they’ll leave bad reviews.

Obviously, you want to prevent negative reviews from happening, as they’ll sour your reputation for potential job candidates.

You don’t want the best talent going somewhere else, after all. Therefore, it’s imperative to create a workplace experience that guarantees employee satisfaction.

What Affects the Workplace Experience?

As we’ve already mentioned, workplace experience encompasses the interactions employees have with their work environment, which is made up of the physical workspace, the digital workplace, and the workforce.

But how do these components work together to create a great workplace experience instead of a merely tolerable one — or, worse, a terrible one?

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:

what makes a great workplace experience

1. The Physical Workplace

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).

And that’s not to mention all the other things that make the office environment appealing for employees, such as comfortable lighting and ergonomic chairs.

Therefore, it’s essential for the facilities management department to collaborate with workplace leaders to design the optimal environment for employee engagement.

2. The Digital Workplace

The digital workplace has become just as important as the physical office. Employees need to have easy access to all the necessary tools to do their best work on any device from any location.

These may include using video conferencing software and a way to book meeting spaces easily. To make this transition as frictionless as possible, the IT team must be involved.

Even something as little as properly naming your meetings can make a great workplace and employee experience.

3. The Workforce

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 that employees are guaranteed equal opportunities, regardless of where they choose to work. That will result in an improved work ethic.

It also means putting guardrails in place to prevent employees from burning out, mastering a collaborative conflict style, and whatever else it takes (within reason) to keep employees engaged.

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, four are directly responsible for providing a great workplace experience — Human Resources Analytics Manager (number 2), Diversity and Inclusion Manager (number 3), Employee Experience Manager (number 5), and Chief People Officer (number 15).

3 Benefits of Providing a Great Workplace Experience

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

1. More (and Easier) Hiring Opportunities

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

That’s why companies are including more and more components of 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.

employee preferences quote

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

2. 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 and absenteeism.

This also benefits your clients, as employee experiences directly affect client experiences.

As this Harvard Business Review article correctly notes:

As more customers look to align their purchase decisions with their values, they have become increasingly interested in how companies engage with employees and tend to prioritize doing business with those who value their employees, treat them fairly, and prioritize their well-being. And employees are interacting with more customers more directly – and because of that the nature of employee engagement has more impact on customers.

3. 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.

This translates to improved occupancy, a greater variety of spaces dedicated to different purposes (office neighborhoods), as well as reduced desk vacancy. Another good option is designing your office with feng shui in mind.

In general, 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 specifics, 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 five best practices should be treated as a starting point upon which you can customize the process based on your needs and company culture.

If you’d like to know more about what hybrid workplace trends are coming up in 2024, sign up for our upcoming webinar on Evolving Workplaces: Top Hybrid Work Trends in 2024.

1. Listen to Your Employees

The first step to most workplace initiatives is to gather feedback from your employees.

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

questions to ask for a great workplace experience

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, HR departments have helmed employee engagement and experience programs.

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 reassess your recruitment practices if needed.

3. Invest in a Workplace Experience Platform

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

On that note, technology can help you bridge all three 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, or 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 more 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. For example, you might want to ensure having tools that integrate with Microsoft Teams to facilitate communication even more.

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 Adjust 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.

team in an office

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 regarding the employee experience.

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

Implementing a hybrid work model in your company could me the key to a more productive and collaborative workforce. Take this hybrid work quiz to find out which model is the right one for you.

Elevate Your Workplace Experience With OfficeRnD Hybrid

You should now know the answer to the question, “What is workplace experience?”

As you can see, there’s a lot 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.

Get started for free, or book a demo with our team.

FAQ

What is the Meaning of Workplace Experience?

Workplace experience refers to the overall perception and feeling employees have about their work environment, encompassing physical spaces, technology, culture, and interactions. It’s shaped by factors like office design, tools provided, company culture, and management practices. A positive workplace experience boosts engagement, productivity, and retention.

What is a Workplace Experience Team?

A workplace experience team is a dedicated group within an organization focused on enhancing the overall employee experience in the work environment. This team collaborates on initiatives related to office design, technology integration, culture-building, and employee well-being. Their goal is to create a positive, engaging, and productive atmosphere that aligns with the company’s values and objectives.

What is the Function of Workplace Experience?

The function of workplace experience is to optimize the work environment to foster employee well-being, engagement, and productivity. It encompasses the design of physical spaces, the integration of technology, the promotion of a positive company culture, and the facilitation of seamless interactions.

What Makes a Great Workplace Experience?

A great workplace experience is characterized by a harmonious blend of a supportive culture, ergonomic and inspiring physical spaces, access to the right tools and technology, and opportunities for growth and collaboration. It prioritizes employee well-being, fosters open communication, and values feedback.

Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".