Connectivity, Culture & Collaboration in the Post-Pandemic Office
The future of work is at a unique crossroads. While some individuals remain uncertain about making the transition back to a physical workplace following the pandemic, a large percentage of employees look forward to the change, and many expect their companies to serve up a range of professional and engagement opportunities upon return. Social interaction, team building, mentorship, camaraderie, training and professional development are often at the top of employees' wish lists, along with flexible work choices, enhanced benefits offerings and more.
Employers recognize that addressing this broad array of factors during uncertain and emotionally-charged times requires thoughtful and strategic solutions. Forward thinking institutions understand that the physical office will continue to play a critical role in a successful workplace strategy, even as current paradigms evolve. Why?
- CONNECTIVITY. Human beings have an innate desire to socialize, connect and interact in group settings. Yes, technology has made it possible to remain connected while apart. But face-to-face interaction establishes bonds, fosters trust, builds community and creates synergies that cannot be easily replicated through digital interaction alone. The desire to return to a shared space that enhances teamwork and nurtures personal connectivity are strong drivers for those who want to shift operations back to the office.
- COLLABORATION. Communication, planning, brainstorming, problem solving and decision making are critical to the success of any business. When people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives work together in a shared space, the solutions tend to be more creative and innovative. The frequency of rich, diverse, collaborative interaction that people enjoyed while at the office has waned during our time apart. This has left some employees feeling disconnected and, at times, unfulfilled while working from home. Energized by the prospect of again being able to partner in person to create dynamic, original solutions has many employees eager to return to the workplace.
- CULTURE - A company’s office speaks volumes about its corporate culture. An outward expression of the firm’s values, beliefs, traditions, attitudes and so much more, the physical workplace is a company’s greatest tool for helping employees feel engaged, valued and empowered to take ownership in their work-related tasks. Spending time within this space allows employees to feel more connected to their organizations and more grounded in the purpose that they bring to the company’s mission. Many wish to return to the office to reestablish those cultural connections and refill their souls with the energy that attracted them to their company in the first place.
With this in mind, we assert that beautiful, technology-rich, flexible spaces that equitably provide employees with the meaningful connectivity, training and collaboration experiences they desire—no matter if they are working in the office or operating from afar—will remain must haves in today's competitive marketplace.
As companies continue to evaluate their near- and long-term real estate and space needs, SmithGroup's workplace strategists and design specialists are helping business leaders explore how:
- Shared spaces—break out areas, conference rooms, dining areas, courtyards, patios, terrace, atriums—can be adapted to promote flexibility and productivity while still maintaining health and safety protocols
- Digital collaboration spaces can help to create seamless connectivity experiences among teammates, regardless of a participant’s physical location
- New technologies can be deployed to further streamline and improve collaboration and teamwork—within the office, as well as for those working remotely
- Offering a variety of workspace typologies—open work centers, privacy enclaves, quiet areas, maker spaces, social zones, access to the outdoors—can help staff members feel safe, comfortable and engaged while working on site
- Increasing access to new or enhanced tools, such as (on-demand) training sessions, robust information libraries, and more.
If this conversation resonates with you, please contact amy.warden [at] smithgroup.com (Amy Warden), Workplace Corporate Practice Manager, to further discuss how SmithGroup can help you navigate a safe return to the office.