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11 May 2022 | by Andrew Peers
It’s been said a hundred times – Covid changed everything - especially how, when and where we work. The result is a workforce that now expects to be in control of their own work destiny and able to exercise choice. So how can the office accommodate employees’ desire for control? And what changes do you need to make to your workplace design?
We talk a lot about the destination office – the idea that workplaces must offer the facilities, amenities and experiences that lone working at home simply cannot. Much of this idea centres on supporting collaboration, but it’s also about enabling sociability, creating shared experiences, promoting learning and exercising choice.
Choice should be at the heart of the modern workplace experience and ironically it is the enforced home working experience of the last two years that really made this apparent. During this period, employees had ultimate control of their surroundings and behaviours, so much so that the workplace now requires a reinvention in order to be both relevant and appealing.
For the workplace to assume this new and exciting role in the post Covid era, we must first recognise how homeworking gave us increased control and over what – namely:
Through clever office interior design, greater use of workplace technologies and positive affirming workplace cultures, these same elements of choice and control can be offered to employees within the shared office environment. Some of the most effective ways this can be achieved include offering:
Choice is a hot news topic too. Recently, London law firm Stephenson Harwood announced that employees could choose to work from home permanently, but with a 20% drop in salary. Some may argue this is not really a choice at all but rather a veiled way of forcing people to return to the office, especially considering the rising cost of living. But what it highlights is the challenges these new behaviours present, and that many businesses are still trying to marry them with what is right for the business. As the global talent crisis worsens however, employers must adapt without delay.
Research commissioned by McKinsey in 2021 revealed the pandemic prompted almost two thirds of employees to reflect on their purpose in life and almost half said they were reconsidering the kind of work they do. Significantly it was Millennials – the largest segment of the global working population – who were three times more likely than any other generation to say they were rethinking their work. In other words, their priorities have shifted, and they’re not afraid to act. In a global talent crisis this could spell bad news as employees’ whose needs are not met could well be lost to other employers or even professions. Effective talent management, retention and recruitment relies on meeting these needs.
We live in a choice-led world – there are hundreds of ways to have your coffee and countless on-demand ways to be entertained. We can control our heating from afar and manage investments on our phones. We can also work from anywhere at any time – something that much of the global population now expects as the norm.
People-orientated and FutureFlexible businesses already recognise the importance of choice and control, and they are building it into their workplace experiences, organisational cultures and office interior designs. It is these businesses that will appeal to the best talent and therefore, have the best chance of keeping employees engaged, motivated and retained. Those that deny employees choice and offer outdated working behaviours and workplaces, will almost certainly lose out.
Associate Director - Head of Workplace Consultancy
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