Over the last few years, even last decade, corporations have come to recognize, embrace and value the diversity of backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, experiences and personal preferences. Once seen as hindrances or obstacles that disrupted the straight and narrow corporate path, are now positive variations that not only need to be understood but also leveraged to bring new outlooks, ideas and advantages to a company.
One only needs to look as far as the office workplace to see diversity in many categories exemplified with multiple backgrounds, ages, experience levels, and ideologies. The ability for employees to express preferences, points of view and processes that stray from the norm has become recognized and appreciated.
Recently, a plethora of articles have been written about Covid’s effect on the workplace. In reality, the Covid pandemic did not create a flexible, hybrid workplace, but rather accelerated it. Even before Covid, a new generation of employees arrived and expressed a strong desire for flexibility even willing to sacrifice income if needed.
The flexible workplace
As the desire for workplace flexibility increases, employees not only realize they can perform their work in other locations, but in some cases they can do it better and more efficiently.
Workplace preferences, however, are not limited to hours/day or days/week but also include the flexibility to work in the office two days one week, 4 days the next week or the next week not at all. In addition, when employees do work in the office, they have personal preferences on the type of workspace is optimal for them. As an employer, by accommodating these preferences you can create and optimize a workspace that will enable your employees to thrive.
The following are examples of workplace preferences that are becoming more commonplace, especially in a hybrid work environment.
Workspace type: traditional desk, stand up desk, sofa or “bean bag” type chairs, outdoor patio or a combination of these within a single day.
Location: floor, section, temperature levels, with a view, near restrooms, with other team members
Workspace details: chair type, mouse, keyboard, monitors, phone, office supplies, cleaned
Meeting rooms: size, location, open or private, whiteboards, video conferencing, speakerphone
Parking: location, lighted area, special recognition spots
Cafeteria: time, table, even food selection
It would be ingenuous, however, to assume that no structure or rules are needed whatsoever when it comes to a hybrid workplace and accommodating these preferences. The nature of the business, types of roles, responsibilities, and hours of operation all need to be considered when implementing and managing a hybrid environment.
As the amount of flexibility increases, the room for error also increases.
For example, one day perhaps only 20 people show up at the office with a capacity of 40. The next day what if 50 people show up. Not only is there no room, time was wasted, employees are frustrated and worse they may question the value of coming back to the office.
If there is a desk available, maybe it doesn’t have a monitor, it is extremely warm in that area or that workspace was not even cleaned or garbage emptied. Bad experience. I know what some might say – too bad I’m paying them to do a job and that is certainly true. But if possible, isn’t it better to give your employees all the tools they need to do their job?
While not a panacea, a robust workplace management system can coordinate, manage and optimize the time employees spend in the office. Not only that, once you have a tool in place and are extracting the data from the reservation volume and characteristics, you can make intelligent decisions as to reducing workspace footprint, expanding it or simply rearchitecting the layout.
In summary, embracing differing and changing employee preferences can be extremely beneficial but also can have unseen consequences. The logistics of managing this new workplace is not easy but investing in the right tools will pay dividends. You and your employees will be euphoric that you did.
To learn more about the Deskbee workplace management software, click here.