TSK
TSK
18 July 2022
HYBRID WORKING

People and the era of experience

We recently held an event where a TSK team of experts addressed some of the biggest workplace questions being asked right now. We shared insights into our work with some of the world’s most well-known brands and delved into what organisations are already doing to adapt to the era of experience.

We’ve collated soundbites from the event, addressing how organisations can start to see their offices through a new lens, to shape exceptional workplaces for their people.

Returning to the workplace means employees can enjoy the benefits of coming together with peers at a time of their choosing and regain that sense of belonging. A new study from smart building platform Infogrid claims that nearly a third of working Brits (32%) want to return to their offices because they feel it would improve their mental health and 63% value having at least some access to an office or physical workplace, with hybrid working currently the most popular working model.

A hybrid working strategy allows organisations to save costs by potentially downsizing, whilst enabling their employees to enjoy a better work-life balance. However, these factors aren’t what make a physical workplace special – it’s just a people strategy. There’s much more to think about when it comes to purposeful work in order to create a happier and more engaged workforce.

Despite the increased offer in choice, employees are becoming more frustrated, and we’re seeing what the media terms as ‘the great resignation’ – in August 2021, 4.3 million Americans resigned from their role. YPulse’s data found that 20% of Millennials in Western Europe quit their jobs in the past year (2021).1

People are now, generally, more resilient to change and are in the mindset that change is a constant, and so if they’re dissatisfied, they’re more willing to seek employment elsewhere.

People and the era of experience

During the pandemic, there was a sense of camaraderie that bonded organisations. The constant Zoom quizzes and daily check-ins have decreased over time as priorities have shifted.

Now, if organisations haven’t really thought about what makes them special and what binds them culturally, people are truly open to looking elsewhere. Redesigning a workplace isn’t the only answer to this challenge as it’s complex, but there is real strength in having a physical space that creates a collective mindset – ‘We’re all working towards the same mission.’ That something ‘special’ is very different for every organisation.

It’s not quite as simple as that. Unfortunately, people have less control over their work activities than they’d like to think. Project pressures, client demands and those emails that just pop up out of nowhere mean that for most of us, we can’t simplify our day to ‘Tuesdays are for reading, concentrating and focus’. We also have to flex around our colleagues’ diaries, schedules and requests.

People not only expect flexibility of place, but also of time.

How much office space do we actually need?

How much office space do we actually need?

There’s no ‘magic formula’ to determine how much space you need per employee. This doesn’t take into account the complexity of work. Although the need for desk provision is decreasing and the demand for collaborative and social space is increasing, this shift isn’t nearly as dramatic as previously anticipated.

More organisations are now reviewing their past expenses and hiring external venues for content creation, celebrations and creative days rather than holding these activities in-house.

The conversation with senior leadership teams needs to move away from the reduction of space and start with dialling up the employee experience. Businesses can then focus on providing the right tools, a considered environment and an enabling culture for teams to flourish. Mobility profiling and data gathering through interviews and surveys combined with longer-term business strategies will help provide more answers around the unique space requirements of your organisation.

“It’s not just about getting staff to tick boxes on a survey. It takes deeper analysis – human conversations and observations – to really learn what people want and need from their work environment. It’s the only way to guarantee a workplace fit for its specific purpose and the people working in it.” Craig Murray Strategy & Design Director, TSK

Are some organisations better suited to hybrid working than others?

A lot of people believe hybrid working suits non-traditional, creative or tech-focused organisations. However, we’ve worked with a vast array of organisations that have used the pandemic as a catalyst for their new way of working.

Leading insurance risk and commercial law firm BLM needed a more agile and collaborative environment for their 600+ Manchester-based team. Moving away from their traditional-style offices, spread across two buildings and fourteen floors, they wanted to adopt a more flexible approach to work.

BLM was already planning on becoming a paper-lite organisation, but the pandemic sped up its digital strategy. Using technology has helped BLM accelerate processes, become more sustainable, and allow their team to connect and communicate anywhere. The new layout encourages team collaboration. Employees can book a desk within their neighbourhood and store their belongings in a locker. All areas of the building are tech-enabled, so employees can take their laptops to various settings and plug and play. The spaces are designed to support each employee’s different tasks and needs during a typical working week: collaborating, meeting, relaxing, focusing and socialising.

Every last detail of BLM’s new Manchester workspace has been carefully considered, from the layout to the final finishes. We used industrial-style features and materials that reflect Salford’s heritage and embody the BLM brand, as well as encourage a sense of community. The new office is built with agility and flexibility in mind so the space can adapt and evolve over the years to come.

The Two New Bailey development has achieved Grade A BREEAM ‘excellent’ specification, supporting BLM’s commitment to improving the long-term sustainability of its operations. Achieving these credentials means Two New Bailey is within the top 10% of UK non-domestic buildings regarding its environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.

People and the era of experience

“Flexibility around working environments could help tackle the growing employee wellbeing crisis. Some people are more comfortable in a social environment; others are very happy working from home. Each employee will have very different experiences and expectations when they return to the workplace, so that flexibility – on both counts – will be key.”

Dan Pilling Workplace Consultant, TSK

People and the era of experience

Wellbeing is increasingly being seen as a ‘tick box’ exercise in workplace briefs, but it’s so much more. It incorporates things like inclusivity, diversity, social value, community, sustainability, air quality, nourishment, mindfulness, physical health, biophilia, choice and safety. Employees can manage many of these key aspects from a home working environment and so they now expect, and deserve, more than just a ‘wellbeing room’ and ‘some plants’ in the office to support them. Wellbeing and workplace strategies have to be aligned.

Because of this, wellbeing is becoming more highly regarded within the workplace agenda, with 86% of employers saying it has become more important over the last 12 months. McKinsey research shows that consumers care deeply about wellness – and that their interest is growing. In a survey of around 7,500 consumers in six countries, 79% of the respondents said they believe that wellness is important, and 42% consider it a top priority.

Wellbeing is a complex umbrella term. If it is to become a key objective in the workplace agenda early on, the solution becomes more holistic and positive.

Organisations looking to create an exceptional experience for their staff should delve into the factors that contribute to their teams’ wellbeing.

Inclusivity

This means more than meeting DDA requirements. We have a responsibility to make people feel confident and comfortable before they’ve even left the house.

There are lessons that we can take from elsewhere to do better as a workplace industry. For example, if you were to look at the supermarket chains, they serve thousands of people per day but have adapted to allow a flexible and tailored experience for everyone, from accessibility to choice, extra amenities and integrating third parties for deliveries, pharmacies, and more.

The modern workplace tends to be more like the humble corner shop. It’s a one-size-fits-all experience without bespoke offerings.

People and the era of experience
Social value

Not only do we need to think about wellbeing and our impact on the environment but also how we can positively impact communities.

We need to think about our corporate social responsibility. For Fitwel, a world-leading wellness certification system for offices and buildings, two of the main scoring categories support social equity for vulnerable populations and the impact on community health.

Location

Employee access to transport provision, cycle routes, green spaces and restorative gardens starts from the choices we make for our workplaces.

Is there an opportunity for employees to easily connect with local communities? Can we position ourselves geographically and functionally within these communities?

Fitness opportunities

Inactivity contributes to 1 in 6 UK deaths. Organisations can design their offices in such a way that it encourages people to travel and move.

Variety and choice allow for free movement and a healthier outlook overall.

People and the era of experience
Food solutions

One in three employees usually buys food from a delivery or takeaway outlet when working from home – and 60% of people returning to work say they plan to visit their workplace cafeterias as often as, or more than, they did pre-pandemic.

A good diet boosts mental and emotional health.

Air quality and heating

Infogrid’s study found 29% of Brits said they are concerned about ventilation in the workplace and 26% are worried about feeling too hot or cold.

To improve the indoor environment, businesses can invest in technology that measures CO2, temperature and humidity.

 

Want to know more?

We are always happy to talk about all things workplace. Get in touch with our team today if you have any questions here.

Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 4
Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 4

Leaders are working harder than ever to deliver healthy, inclusive and empowering workspaces that deliver the very best work-life balance.

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