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The Evolution of the Workplace Leads to Positive Engagement

The Evolution of the Workplace Leads to Positive Engagement

It’s an evolution. A revolution… and it’s all about the employee.  Workplace trends are no longer about how to drive a workforce, but rather how to engage and make employees happy and productive, in order to maximize their potential.

When the C-suite first discovered the almighty power of data, it was used in the broader sense. The focus was on the facility and making sure employees were comfortable. Our work styles have evolved over the last decade, however. And so has our workforce. Fortunately, this evolution brought about new software tools, allowing us to refine our data and how it’s used. This new piece to the puzzle has enabled management teams to simultaneously focus on both the big picture and the minute details. The result, is a more engaged, innovative, and productive workforce.

Environment ——> Experience

“Our most recent survey shows the business value of human-focused practices in creating a workplace culture that makes employees feel happier and more committed to staying with a company. Social recognition taps into the discretionary energy of the workplace, empowering people to deliver the best work of their lives, and enabling companies to operate at their full potential.“-Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce

As companies across the globe learn more about what creates a productive environment, the environment has transitioned from “owned” workspaces, to ones centered on a more “shared” experience. The workforce is viewed as the organization’s first “customer,” and it is our job to ensure a cohesive and consistent experience. One that delights. One that exceeds expectations, helping the workforce achieve that work-life balance we all strive to attain and maintain.

As workplace leaders learn more about the correlation between a happy workforce and organizational success, many are adopting more human-centric strategies, such as Immersive Planning. By linking furnishings, architecture, and people, designers are able to create a more fluid environment. This more holistic approach delivers a more positive experience, accommodating the diverse work styles, cultures, and generations that comprise our workforce today. Lines are blurred between individuals and teams, work and life, independent workspaces and collaborative spaces. The result is a more positive outcome for employees, management, and customers.

Universal Design ——> Tailored Design

Universal design is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Historically, workspace designers applied universal design principles when planning an office redesign or building a new office space. Real estate, furniture, and business tools were configured with the intention of meeting the needs of all potential users, representing a wide variety of needs and characteristics. Flexibility was key.

While flexibility is still an integral component to every workspace design, management also now recognizes the need for a more tailored approach. This new design strategy takes flexibility and universal design a step further. With a more autonomous, tailored approach, employees have choices. Open spaces are available for those looking to collaborate or be inspired by the “buzz” around them. Hideaway cubbies are integrated to ensure those who need quiet time have what they need. Even the hallways and water stations are designed with the employee in mind.

Environmental Sustainability ——> Human Sustainability

The last decade or so was, what many have called, the “first wave of sustainability.” Organizations focused on minimizing their carbon footprint. Green buildings are designed with energy efficiency, sustainability, and water usage at the core of their ethos. By reducing our impact on the environment, we were able to decrease costs and increase profits. What many didn’t realize, however, is that this was just the first step in ensuring health and wellness.

Rick Fedrizzi, Chairman & CEO of International WELL Building Institute indicates that “…safeguarding the environment wasn’t the only goal. In fact, there was a larger goal: healthy ecosystems were a precursor to healthy communities. That’s why my former colleagues and I made a concerted effort over the years to evolve LEED to focus not only on a building’s environmental impact, but on its human impact.” In other words, industry leaders were setting things up for the “second wave of sustainability.” By creating an environment of protection and positivity, we have fostered a culture that fosters human sustainability.

High Tech ——> High Touch: Balancing Humanity

There is no denying the impact technology in the workplace can have. In fact, a recent MIT Center for Digital Business study indicates that “an increase in digital intensity can help businesses manage a higher volume of work with the same physical capacity. This includes driving 16% more revenue with both physical and human assets.”

Despite these positive influences, however, nothing replaces human interaction. When organizations abandon individual, team, and leadership development and interaction, there can be long-lasting, negative consequences. This disconnect weaves its way through the entire workforce, leaving behind a culture of distrust and low engagement. Therefore, leaders are now working to strike a balance, focusing more on “high-touch leadership” – one that leverages the benefits of both technology and interpersonal communication.

Facility Manager ——> Community Manager

There was a time when the Facility Manager’s role was solely about the facility. They were there to ensure all the moving parts functioned properly and that costs were kept at a minimum. With the evolution of the workplace, the FM has seen a shift in responsibilities, taking on a greater role. They are now less of a “facility” manager and more of a “community” manager.

The “Community Manager” isn’t just about managing organizational assets and real estate; it’s about managing the people too. The CM is there to ensure positive growth and development of the entire workforce through nurturing, leadership, and access to business tools that align with organizational and individual goals.

Space Centric Metrics ——> Business & Human-Centric Metrics

As organizations worked to fight rising real estate costs, they turned to metrics that helped them better understand space allocation and utilization. While this data has significant value, it leaves out one critical component of the equation – the people. As we learn more about what drives organizational success, leaders are now realizing the importance of combining and analyzing disparate data that accounts for both business and human needs. To deliver workspaces that spark innovation and increase productivity, we much engage our workforce. We must understand human behaviors and pain points. From there, we must connect employee needs to business goals and outcomes. We must create a cyclical partnership, where data is measured, iterated, and measured again.

Traditionally, the entire data-gathering process occurred through weeks and months of interviews and data mining. Combined metrics were analyzed, with the final outcome listed on a static spreadsheet, only to realize the data shifted during this process.

So, what’s the solution?  You can apply a high-level historical percentage of growth, or change to the organization or department, but you really don’t grow that way. Department and company growth usually occur by function; i.e., staff may grow at 8%, management and collaboration rooms by 1.5% and common space may stay the same.  An accurate forecast will dial this in for you.

With the advent of new technologies, you can now accurately forecast your space by job function, by department, by space function, and/or by building.  You can build scenarios before test fits and access high level reports down to the granular level. Stakeholder validation and input will allow you to hear what they need to be productive and create solutions in real time, managing your real estate with insight and transparency.  And all the information is in one repository, summarized, so you don’t have to spend tedious hours doing just that. The future of management is available and more accessible than ever.

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