Planning for the workplace of the future?
Memorable experiences improve employee performance, regardless of their location
The onset of a global pandemic compelled a swath of the workforce to pivot almost instantly—moving from the office to the kitchen table, the conference room to the couch. That part was relatively easy. Work got done and productivity remained high in most cases. But at what cost? Many leaders have learned that fostering that water-cooler coalition is much more challenging. The intangible connections employees make in person—in the office—often provide the foundation for job satisfaction and success. So how can you make sure your teams are productive, engaged and valued, no matter where they work?
You should begin by asking them what they need and what they want.
Those two simple questions will lay the groundwork for future success. As your leadership team considers your options, from bringing employees back into the office, moving to a fully remote workforce or a combination of the two, one thing is clear: we have entered the golden age of the employee. Workers have largely proven they can work from home more successfully than previously thought and flexibility has become a “must have.” But that’s just part of the employee story. While the lack of a commute is a positive for many, the lack of in-person collaboration is widely considered a negative. And somewhere in the middle of that push and pull is the employee’s health and wellness, both mental and physical. Each of these considerations has increased in importance in the past year. And if keeping high-value talent is important to the success of your organization, it should be important to you as well.
Surveying employees regularly to understand their concerns and needs can provide a roadmap for strategic changes that improve experience. If they are missing the office, it’s important to understand why. What’s the ideal mix of space for their return to the workplace? What makes them feel engaged and supported? These are the kinds of questions to be asking in surveys as well as in one-on-one conversations, focus groups and even polls.
But if you ask your employees what they want, you must be ready to follow through because inaction can have a worse impact on talent retention than not asking at all. In other words, if you’re not prepared to act, don't ask.
According to JLL’s most recent survey, most knowledge workers (72%) want more flexibility in where and when they work, which is why nearly two-thirds of real estate decision makers are increasing flexible work options.
Employee morale can be increased as much as 90% by policy decisions such as flexible work arrangements. Supporting your employees anywhere they work and providing options for where and when they do their best work builds a resilient team that is up for any challenge.
This is ultimately better for the bottom line. Happy employees have 79% lower burnout rates, are 61% less likely to leave, 31% more productive and three times more creative.
Health and wellness
A safe and healthy working environment, one that actually fosters the health and well-being of employees, is also paramount to business success.
HR has long been focused on well-being, but in the past, investments were often superficial with options such as access to gyms and healthier food in the cafes. Now, employees are looking for employers to actively support their physical and mental health. For example, a subscription to a meditation app isn’t effective if the employee isn’t given time to use it. What works? Cultivating an environment where stretching, meditating or even just walking is encouraged and supported.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to provide your employees the time, the space and the platform to make small, incremental changes in their workday. JLL’s Experience Anywhere Hub makes it possible to incorporate five-minute stretches or 10-minute mindfulness exercises into an employee's workday, rather than the aspirational and often intimidating 45-minute boot camp class before or after work. The technology makes it the healthy choice—the easy choice—scheduling these well-being breaks directly into people's calendars. It’s a simple but effective way to make employee health and well-being a top priority.
Another thing we learned from our latest survey is that employees miss coming into the office to collaborate and engage socially. But before implementing a workplace strategy around huddle rooms, you need the data to show you what spaces are being used and how.
Occupancy sensor technology will tell you how and where employees are working within the office. This will give you a better idea of whether you have over- or under-utilized space. Other technologies, like JLL’s Jet, allow employees to reserve space, schedule meetings, and even connect to colleagues within just a single app. Used together, these technologies enhance the experience of that space and provide valuable data that truly informs and supports your workforce—wherever it works.
Flexibility, additional health and wellness options and an opportunity to collaborate will help you build a workplace that is efficient and engaging as well as effective and fit for the future. But it all begins with a deep understanding of your employees. Start there, and the rest will fall into place.
Visit our website to define what a “hybrid workplace” means for your organization to foster a top-notch employee experience, optimize your portfolio for the future and identify the technology to make it all happen.