Flexibility will be paramount as we return to the workplace, and having witnessed many employees relish working from home, reporting improved productivity, and experiencing a better work-life balance; only a quarter of UK workers will willingly return to the office when they re-open. According to a LinkedIn survey of over 7500 workers.
However, a survey of 100 business leaders by the capital’s leading business membership group London First revealed that 70% still believe it’s important for productivity that employees return to the office when it is safe to do so.
Although both sides of the argument are valid, the reality is that every business and their culture is different, much like the preferences and desires of each and every employee. While many have enjoyed every element of remote work; others haven’t. Many may have been more productive, but others may have experienced a decline. Whilst employee wellbeing improved for many; others may have suffered due to social isolation and lack of collaboration.
So how will future workplace thinking cater to everyone whilst still enhancing productivity, enabling positive culture, and attracting the best talent?
As there is no one-size-fits-all solution. According to our research, the answer lies in flexibility, with 40% intending to keep flexible working moving forward, and 78% planning to rethink workspaces to support better hybrid working. London First business leader survey
Barry Hoffman, group HR director at Landsec said: “We know how important it is to be flexible with how office space is used to accommodate a diverse workforce and different ways of working, and this has only been heightened by our Covid-19 experience.” Source: Evening Standard
Hargreaves Lansdown is taking the opportunity to review what the workplace will look like. The firm believes that by returning employees on a reduced number of days per week or by rotation will have a profound impact on mental health whilst also reducing isolation, improving networking, collaboration and teamwork, and improving the learning and development of its employees. Evening Standard
As businesses adapt and embrace ways of working, workplaces and processes; key employee services such as food + pantry offerings will also need to be reinstated in a new and flexible way to ensure employees can get access to the services that benefit them wherever they are.
Now is the time to innovate
Businesses that will emerge from this period successfully will be those who embrace innovation. A large proportion of that innovation should be focused on the health and wellbeing of employees.
87% of businesses say they have used the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate working practices. Feedr survey
Workplaces have naturally evolved over time, but nobody could have imagined the urgency of a global workplace redesign. With so much uncertainty around what that will look like, it’s important that any redesigned workspace supports employee wellbeing, organisational priorities, flexible working, and boosts team culture. Over 50% of businesses said that maintaining team culture is their main challenge when planning a return-to-work strategy.
Compass Group’s newly appointed Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Paul Litchfield believes that employee wellbeing should be at the heart of the future workplace – “I believe we need to rethink what the purpose is of workspaces. What we generally need now is somewhere where people can mix to generate ideas and enthusiasm – that dictates a different spatial design to the conventional office building. If we plan our workplaces around what works in improving employee wellbeing we can achieve the accommodation savings we need but we will also create a dynamic economy that will prosper in a highly competitive world market.”
67% of respondents are redesigning their workplace. Feedr Survey
Because businesses need to be flexible in their approach to creating a future workplace that works for everyone, innovative thinking and employee engagement will be crucial in order to achieve success. One thing is certain, technology will play a crucial role in the future workplace, and aiding in the safe return of employees now and in the months to come. Managing fluctuating headcounts, getting access to healthy food, ensuring effective collaboration between remote and on-site workers, and more.
Innovative thinking, employee engagement, and technology will result in a future workplace that works for everyone. But to get there before it’s too late, and with our mental health and wellbeing intact, a collaborative and supportive approach is vital to ensure learnings and opportunities are shared across industries, sectors, and verticals.