What makes an organization future-ready in 2021?

Why new Leesman research shows that 76% of workplaces will struggle to tempt the workforce back from home.

The global shift towards working from home has added many new variables to employee experience. Employers everywhere experimented with new ways of working, communicating and equipping their people to the new work paradigm. But the question remains, what do employees actually want from their workplaces when they return?

To answer this question, in 2020 Leesman took its tried-and-tested methodology for measuring employee workplace experience and used it to create a new Leesman assessment for home working experience. What we discovered was that the vast majority of workplaces have a lot of work to do to tempt their workforce back from the comfort of their homes:

  • 83% of employees agree their home environment enables them to work productively.
  • 64% of employees agree their office environment enables them to work productively.
  • 78% of employees in Leesman+ high performing offices say their office environment enables them to work productively.

The data was derived from the experience of more than 830,000 office-based employees from the last 11 years, alongside more than 180,000 employees who have been working from home since the start of the pandemic, making it the largest study of its kind.

The findings identify where the greatest opportunities exist and where weaknesses in legacy systems threaten to undermine the idea of any new normality being better than before. The research is sectioned into three groups: people, place and time.

People – Are employers putting employee purpose first?

Understanding employee purpose demands organizations investigate how workplaces can best support the people who use those spaces. These spaces likely need to be multi-faceted, enabling workers to perform individual tasks, collaborative group work and technical tasks that require specific tools and technologies. Add to that the new necessities resulting from the pandemic, including physical distancing, readily available hand-sanitizer, and more video-conferencing facilities given the prevalence of hybrid working in future, and what employees need from their workplaces now is likely quite different than what they needed pre-COVID.

Business leaders need to ask themselves what role workplace plays in supporting both their wider organizational purpose and individual employee purpose. The debate around future operating model must start there, putting people before place.

Place – Go big or they will stay home

Could it really be that the home, a place designed for life outside of work, can actually better support employees in their work than the traditional office? That’s certainly what the data suggests. Future-ready businesses must understand that variety, function and convenience are more important than an office’s aesthetic alone. If post-pandemic workplaces don’t start supporting employees in their work better than their homes, employees simply won’t come back.

Variety is key. A great workplace has to offer the right variety of spaces to support the range of tasks an employee do their work in that workplace. It also has to get the basics right – like Wi-Fi, places that support tasks that require acoustic privacy and places to relax and take a break – all the things that the home is currently doing better than the average office.

Time – Do it now, and with urgency

Most employees have spent the last 15 months working from home. Although it might have been an inconvenience initially, employees have spent this time adapting and improving their home working environments. Naturally, some prefer their new self-made office to the old one, but organizations now have a tremendous opportunity to reimagine and reinvent their workplaces to match a new dynamic, video-first work culture—and those that do will be in position to lead the future of work.

This culture change isn’t going to just go away when employees come back to the office. The office will have to incorporate elements of remote work into its physical and cultural frameworks to bridge the gap while not alienating new joiners, who likely have only ever worked in a remote environment. If businesses want to keep hold of talent that’s at home with remote working, they need to act now.

There is now an enormous expectation on employers to create new workplaces that can compete with the comfort and efficiency of employees’ own homes. Leaders that consider themselves future-ready will have to prove it by creating a work environment based not only on their own grand vision but the vision of their employees as well. If employers fail to find that balance, employees will leverage the most accessible talent market in history and leave their organization, and that organization’s dated thinking, behind.

Download the “Workplace 2021: Appraising Future Readiness” report here

 

This article was written in partnership with Leesman.

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