A recent Accenture study found that only 1 in 6 people feel highly connected to their organization and the people they work for and with. Translating this into dollar terms, people who feel highly connected to their teams, leaders and the company itself, means organizations can boost annual revenues by 7.4%. Add in an unfamiliar or dated workplace environment, many employees can experience a case of “visitor mentality” where they feel like strangers when spending time in their own office.
Now that many organizations have successfully reopened their workplaces with hybrid work arrangements, this post will explore how to help hybrid workers feel connected to their team, culture and the workplace itself.
Rethink Workplace Design for the Hybrid Worker
Brian Haines, VP of Strategy at FM:Systems calls out that most pre-pandemic office spaces were not built with teamwork, ideation, and culture-building in mind – and yet are still intact.
“This ‘traditional’ workplace was optimized for individual work. High-density workstations and cubicles were intended to keep employees’ heads down and make them as productive as possible. While just 2.5 years ago, those offices were built for a different day in time. People, especially after working remotely for so long, don’t want to commute into a dated office just to sit next to each other to co-work. The hybrid workplace of the now and into the future needs to be designed with interconnectivity in mind. But it’s going to take time. Best-in-class organizations can use data-driven insights from actual occupant utilization and employee sentiment surveys to create workplace destinations their people actually want to come into,” said Haines.
Deb Hill, VP of Human Resources at FM:Systems, echoed this sentiment.
“If the workplace hasn’t changed or been updated for hybrid work, it can feel lonely to be working all day stuck in a cubicle only to be making video calls. It’s, therefore, important to shift the purpose of onsite work to offset this. For instance, if being at the office is designed with ideation, creation, and collaboration in mind, an inherent feeling of connectedness between employees will be the natural result,” she said.
From adding in more relaxing social spaces, to increasing square footage on collaborative spaces, to replacing conference rooms with “Zoom Rooms,” our A&D friends at RSP outline specific workplace design tips inspired by residential and hospitality touches, as a way to boost employee morale – and connection – while working at the office.
Foster More Socializing Opportunities
One of the small things FM:Systems has done to help drive change is introducing a 20-minute virtual meeting every other week. These meetings are designed to build better connections across the organization. The ‘Take 15’ segments vary from learning sessions to team games. Most of these are centered on creating more intimate social connections while working remotely; this helps people establish more friendships among their teammates so when they do get together in-person, they don’t feel like “the new kid at school.”
FM:Systems has also been trialing ‘Lunch Wednesdays’ at its corporate headquarters in Raleigh, NC. These are designed to encourage socializing in-person and again, building relationships between the local Raleigh employees. The luncheons are also great when out-of-town employees visiting the office get the opportunity to connect with a broader subset of employees in an informal setting.
These opportunities are less about working in the same place together and more about growing connections and ultimately building a strong culture aligned with the company’s values – one of which is a culture of unplugging and having fun.
Use the Right Workplace Management Technology
“Companies have recognized there’s a meaningful role for the hybrid workplace in providing community, collaboration, and culture building for coworkers,” said Kurt von Koch, CEO of FM:Systems. “The flexibility that comes from going hybrid means the environment for in-person engagement becomes more equitable and, therefore, more productive. For a hybrid team to be successful, it needs to be combined with purposeful and practical comings together to encourage the connection, culture building, and problem-solving that can only happen after sharing a meal together or bumping into one another accidentally in the hall.”
To facilitate this, organizations need the right workplace management tools in place, like:
- Multi-data point analysis solution: A multi-data point analysis platform, examines a variety of workplace data, including workplace utilization, employee mobility, and much more, to identify the areas within an organization’s building or office portfolio that can be enhanced to deliver a competitive advantage. By automating data gathering, analysis, and reporting into a single view, business leaders can unlock cost-saving and employee connection opportunities across their workplaces and real estate portfolios.
- Visitor management system: With employees and guests coming in at different days and times of the week, having a robust but flexible visitor management solution makes handling every expected and unexpected visitor interaction easier and faster. It also helps organizations maintain consistent security and safety protocols while also creating an ideal environment for high-quality work and productivity for all occupants, whether they’re employees or guests.
- Desk and room booking tools – Usingscheduling software to reserve a desk or room prior to coming into the office makes it an all around smooth experience for hybrid employees where they can feel comfortable, and even excited, about coming into the office. Not only can they book desks next to teammates they need to collaborate with on certain work projects, they’re also a great way to encourage relationship-building opportunities. Moreover, organizations gain another useful data source on how many people are intending to be in the office on certain days and times, where they are working most often and least, and more so they can continue to adapt their hybrid workplace to match the way their people actually work.
It’s clear that the hybrid way of doing things will be here for some time to come. How organizations adapt to this change while still providing employees with an experience built around collaboration and teamwork will be the competitive differentiators in the future world of work.