12 Days of Trends: Open seating can be anonymous—don’t let it.

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Bernice Boucher
Bernice Boucher
Bernice Boucher is a Managing Director in JLL’s Strategic Consulting group. She is Head of the Workplace Strategy Practice in the Americas and is a senior leader in the Workplace Solutions practice globally. Her rich experience working with Fortune 100 companies and corporate real estate groups adds an additional level of expertise to JLL’s consulting practice. She has more than 18 years of experience in workplace strategy and change management and is expert in advising clients on enhancing the productivity of their people, their workplace, and their real estate portfolio.

We’re counting down to 2020 by sharing 12 days of emerging workplace trends! Learn what trends our top global contributors are most excited to see evolve in the new year. 

Trend 6 of 12: Bernice Boucher shares four ways to enhance workplace personalization—and in turn, community, purpose and performance

Photo by Adam Przewoski on Unsplash

There’s nothing humdrum about excelling at one’s unique work responsibilities, and yet, many knowledge workers are expected to do so in vague and anonymous settings. In this era of unassigned desks and workplaces, even attractive designs can scream, ‘cookie-cutter!’ Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, prioritize a personal workplace experience for all, as the individuals they are.

Now more than ever, today’s workforce craves personalization—since they’ve grown accustomed to it at home. Personalized experiences have become a hallmark of the consumer world over the last several years, from customized fashion boxes and meal plans, to ecommerce ads based on browsing history.

However, despite this being a pervasive trend in virtually all other aspects of our lives, personalization is significantly lacking in the workplace, where we spend 80 percent of our waking hours.

But bridge this gap, and your workplace can spark community, purpose and performance.

Four ways to enhance workplace personalization for the greater good

So how can employers create a personalized experience, without reverting to a bygone era of assigned desks and offices that featured the photos and mementos that spoke to what was important to each employee? Following are a few ways teams can prioritize personalization in their open and/or flexible floorplans:

  1. Identify shared values. First and foremost, speak to employees and understand who they are and what is valuable to them. More than a single, enterprise-wide survey, tailor conversations based on people’s departments and roles. Only your unique teams can tell you what they want—and need—to succeed and feel valued.
  2. Create an identity wall. Combat anonymity by visually celebrating personal milestones. Some firms I’ve worked with dedicate wall space to sharing news of life events such as recent marriages, births, or advanced degrees or certifications. Community activities also fit well here, helping people feel connected with one another, as individuals, by, say, signing up to share a favorite recipe or lead an ‘extracurricular’ bowling night.
    Note: An effective identity wall is not a one-and-done affair. But tend to this at least once a month, and you’ll be able to thwart any uninspiring anonymity in an ongoing manner.
  3. Empower people to rally around a cause. Coordinated volunteer programs can inspire individuals to bond over personal values—and it doesn’t hurt the cause that a culture of giving back also sparks productivity. These programs may, but needn’t, incorporate full-day service—they can be as simple as organizing a lunch-making session in the kitchen to donate to a local after school program or soup kitchen.
  4. Consider personalized technology solutions. From teleconferencing and room reservations to connectivity platforms, workplace tech is brimming with personalization possibilities. Some employers are beginning to integrate mobile enterprise apps that can aid with simple tasks such as reserving meeting rooms, ordering lunch, scheduling meetings with coworkers, setting reminders, and more – mirroring the technology employees experience at home. Workplace tech leaders should consider the needs of varying teams, rather than taking a blanket approach to workplace tech. After all, a graphic designer working onsite will depend more on high computing capacity, than on the fast, flexible connectivity prized by a traveling sales executive.

Ultimately, personalizing the modern workplace calls us all to rethink the way we look at workplace data. Best-in-class real estate firms provide workplace surveys, in-office occupancy sensors and commute analyses, but the results are mostly used in aggregate, to help determine one or two work styles for everyone.

By instead tapping into individual data and personal preferences, you can help spark community, purpose and performance—one person at a time.

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  1. 4 simple yet effective ways to enhance personalisation, point 1 is incredibly important, speaking to the team and understanding them to find out what is significant to each individual.


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