Chairman up Bishop-Wisecarverleveraging over 70 years of success to deliver innovative motion solutions to customers around the world.
It is clear that the way people work has changed dramatically in recent years. And while the pandemic certainly had a big impact on this, I believe these changes were trending long before that with the availability of technologies that enabled remote working. Some companies have long toyed with the idea that physically working eight or more hours a day, five days a week in the office no longer really made sense, but the pandemic needed to make changes.
With this new remote/hybrid workforce, small and medium-sized businesses like mine have the opportunity to rethink their future and create an office design fit for today’s new realities. Sometimes even the smallest design changes can benefit a company and also help recruit and retain employees. Strategic design firm Kolar Design said on its website that “measuring the impact of space is a critical part of an organization’s success.” And a 2019 study through Capital one revealed that “90% of office professionals agree that they do their jobs better in well-designed workspaces.”
What defines a well-designed space? In 2019, my company had plans for an office expansion, but when the pandemic hit and so many employees were out of the office, that road no longer made sense. It was clear that we had to adapt to our new future. As part of the planning, we looked at the scores of our net promoter employees, and most employees wanted to remain hybrid with no more than one day a week in the office. Between these scores and additional surveys of our employees, we confirmed that we no longer require office space reserved for each person. The same office space can be used by several people working on different days of the week and can be configured to suit most people and preferences.
When we started redesigning our own office, five key strategies emerged that could be applied to other SMBs in similar situations.
1. Create a destination.
If your employees no longer have to go to the office every day, make sure that when they are there it is a welcoming, useful, enjoyable experience and that the workspace is attractive enough that people want to be there. With a hybrid work structure, there is no longer any need for on-site meetings, as the building can now be the venue that supports everything, including individual work, team building, group meetings, large learning events and social activities.
Multiple strategies can be used to create a destination. For example, my company designed a common room with couches, ping pong tables and a large, open kitchen where people gather, hold cooking events, party or relax. We have dedicated areas for yoga, nursing mothers and those who work best in living room environments. We also incorporated art elements that match our branding and core values because our employees found our old buildings boring.
2. Reallocate unused space.
Many companies have fewer employees coming to the office, but still have the same amount of office space. With some redecoration, that space can be transformed into something more usable and inviting, such as a multimedia room, library with couches, or smaller rooms for groups of six to twelve people. they want to work alone, in small groups or in a special common place. Valuable real estate can be freed up for company-wide meetings, training, education and leadership programs that help employees with career development and advancement.
3. Integrate employee feedback.
Find out how employees like to work, what inspires them and what matters most to them. For example, some employees are concerned about social distancing; this can be easily addressed by creating a separate entrance to walk in along with designing a closed room environment. Others may want more common areas.
Don’t assume you know what your employees are thinking. Ask them. Some companies conduct their own employee surveys, but others may find it helpful to turn to organizations that specialize in this area. If you choose the latter, look for organizations that work closely with employers to leverage feedback, improve work environments, and improve team performance.
4. Re-evaluate the space for executive leadership.
Like me, many corporate executives travel significantly, so an empty office is a waste of valuable real estate. Also, when the executive leadership team has so-called “corner offices,” they can often be disconnected from the rest of the company. You may want to consider working with different departments when you are on site. I’ve found that this approach gives me invaluable feedback that helps me run the business better. That’s why I prefer to work in a room with my team than alone in an office. And if you need a quiet space for a phone call or meeting, you can set up an office space for the entire leadership team that simply has two desks for anyone who needs them.
5. View each department separately.
Recognize that one working model may not apply to every department. For example, we found that our engineering, human resources and IT teams wanted to be on site much more than other departments. To accommodate them, we gave each department an office space with rooms and doors, but we also provided them with an open space where all employees of the department could work together as needed. We also noticed that safety was a concern for some departments, so we set up a special visitor area with its own entrance, separate from our employees’ workstations. Again, talk to your employees to figure out their needs and design from there.
As with any redesign, there were hundreds of details that we researched, considered, created and then redesigned. But these strategies helped drive the overall process and provided much-needed direction for our success. If you run an SMB and notice that your work environment has changed, now is your chance to rethink the future of your space. By doing this, you can become better, stronger and the destination that inspires employees and brings greater success to your company and team.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.