by Lauren Kimball, Design Director at Momentum
The COVID-19 crisis has caused an extreme disruption to the personal and professional lives of employees. As a result, new employee mindsets have emerged.
Older generations are feeling successful at home because of more stable home office environments, while younger generations are feeling less productive due to roommates, cramped spaces and poor technology.
We have explored how companies can best support these shifting mindsets across three scenarios of working, and provided a few creative thought starters for future-proofing the workplace in each:
Overall, the global workforce is enjoying the convenience and flexibility of remote working. Removal of long commute times, savings on transportation fees, and the development of healthier habits are all to thank.
That said, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. As humans, we naturally long for social connection, and that companionship may be lacking through a screen. If an employee is having a bad day, they can simply turn off their video and suddenly, the in-person intuition that teammates rely on has vanished.
Other things like the disappearance of casual collisions, the never-ending workdays, and lack of ergonomic workstations all add to the challenges of remote working.
To combat these pain points, employers can focus on providing employees with proper tech setups to remain efficient at home; create opportunities for social gathering, mentorship and collaboration virtually so creativity doesn’t suffer; and set expectations with staff about working hours and company schedules.
With the benefits of remote working, there are still a range of touchpoints that many employees feel are performed better in person—like exposure to leadership, social connection, and service to clients.
A flex model of home and office work creates higher employee engagement and team cohesion. And, if it’s a scenario companies choose to stay in, it removes geographical restrictions for employee housing; 36% of global consumers feel that, if anything, COVID-19 has proven that working from home is viable, and that they don’t need to live in the city they work in.
To help foster a productive environment, employers should focus on creating equal opportunities for mentorship and career development, regardless of whether an employee is at home or in the office; provide managers with proper training and tools to engage teams from afar; and transition traditional office features like assigned desks and private offices to more flexible solutions that better support the needs of the business.
67% of employees do feel that both school and work will eventually go back to “normal.” And while that return is going to look different than it was before, many benefits will remain the same—like cross-team collaboration, soft skills development, and successful onboarding experiences for new hires.
Basic challenges will arise, however, around everyday experiences like public transportation and office circulation. Employees won’t be in a rush to take mass transit in big cities, and within the office, elevator and stair traffic will create pinch points and wait times at the start and end of days.
Child or senior care will be another pain point for many. With the return to schools and extracurricular programs in flux, employees will be at the mercy of their family’s schedules.
To help smooth out these transitions, employers should focus on finding ways to support the wellbeing of their staff like offering support groups or childcare alternatives; dedicating space to physical and mental wellbeing activities; and providing clear communication and visible housekeeping to manage user flow.
Since we’re already talking about the physical office, it feels more natural to roll right into additional thought starters.
In addition to these in-office solutions, we’ve come up with a few thought starters on how we can give employees and clients an even more refreshed workspace that better supports them in a range of activities.
Health and Wellness
As employees have adjusted to working from home, we’ve seen a newfound appreciation for their own wellbeing. 35% of global employees feel there were small things they took for granted pre-pandemic that they will now be looking for their in-office experience to support.
Adding locker and bike rooms allows employees to refresh after a lunch-time workout or store their new wheels that have replaced mass transit. Meditation spaces with noise-cancelling headphones and guided meditation can take over a phone room to support the mental health of employees. And mini markets offering snacks and merch from small businesses can even take the place of the unhealthy vending machine that’s seen its days.
Many offices will end up with real estate that they need to release or repurpose. What if companies opened their doors to their partners who have lost theirs? They could invite vendors to showcase and develop their products in real time, and possibly work on projects together.
And what about that large kitchen space we can’t use anymore? Companies could open up their kitchens to feature small businesses who are looking to expand their reach. Restaurants can showcase new dishes and beverages to employees and offer up additional food items or gift cards for purchase.
As stay-at-home orders are gradually lifted, it is merely the beginning of significant relief efforts for those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
What better way for companies to support their community than dedicating a portion of their footprint to local non-profit partners? 88% of global consumers choose to support brands that have been donating time, money, and resources to COVID-19 efforts. Companies could create multi-purpose spaces that serve a range of needs, including workshop space to develop the next round of post-pandemic strategies and volunteer stations for staff to engage.
Each of these ideas are opportunities to give employees and clients a workspace that is ready to meet their post-pandemic needs.
For many months there will be feelings of excitement, fear and unrest upon return, and companies must ensure that the workplaces we return to preserve the good from our remote ways, while providing new opportunities to create the products and services of tomorrow.
WE KNOW Experiences 2.0 Special Edition Research, Momentum Worldwide, June 2020
Global Work From Home Experience Survey, Global Workplace Analytics, April 2020