Companies would have regarded their offices to be critical to their performance before the pandemic. We all seemed to agree on the office’s purpose. The workspace served as a hub for productivity, collaboration, and company identity. Essentially, the office functioned as a dedicated work environment away from home.Then the pandemic arrived. As offices closed or modified hours to minimize the spread of COVID-19, many workspaces moved to our homes or a hybrid model. Globally and individually, people were affected. As a result, our opinions on what we value most from our workspaces did too. Regardless of how we portrayed the pre-pandemic office, it’s since evolved, and a new standard has emerged for what we consider it to be.
Why Do You Need a Welcome Back-to-Work Plan?
With the implementation of vaccines and safety precautions, more employees are returning to work. However, they also are shunning the surroundings they were once comfortable with. After nearly two years of working out of temporary offices, home offices, or a living room—employees know precisely what they need from their workspace.Organizations that want to welcome their employees back to a traditional office building will need to implement a return plan. However, returning to work doesn’t mean returning to normal. Employees now place a distinct value on various characteristics in their workspace, and if overall employee satisfaction declines, the company’s performance will suffer as well.
Workplace Satisfaction and Company Performance
According to studies, workplace satisfaction influences not only the individual but also the company’s performance. Satisfied employees go to work regularly, are productive, and motivate others. Without this critical component, company performance dwindles, as does the engaged and happy workforce that provides a company with a unique advantage.
Today’s Workspace Preferences
Workspaces are no longer solely defined as offices. People’s workspaces are wherever they work, and they have opinions about what constitutes a pleasant working environment. Companies are creating solutions to inject the work-from-home culture into their offices by providing employees with what they value.
Employees Desire a Supportive Workspace
- A private and quiet area is necessary for creativity and focus to flourish. We have become increasingly distracted at work due to constant notifications and shared office spaces. Employees are routinely interrupted 50 to 60 times each day, according to Dovico, with 80% of those interruptions being insignificant. As a result, productivity suffers and stress levels rise.
- Employees desire a designated place to interact and have meetings because teams improve when they work together. These environments reduce distractions and keep projects on track by centralizing discussions and encouraging team interaction.
- During their time spent working inside a building, these individuals need proof that the building is healthy and has good air quality upon their return. As a result, employees can return to work healthy and stay that way.
Employees Value Comfort
- On a scale of importance, employees place a high value on natural light and greenery. Natural elements soothed anxiety and boosted low moods and attention spans, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Nature provides a comfortable, nurturing atmosphere for employees to thrive.
- Regardless of where and how they work, employees require proper seating and ergonomic workstations after spending so much time in less-than-ideal workstations and makeshift offices. It is essential to accommodate employees’ physical demands during the workday using ergonomic chairs and workstations to boost productivity and comfort while easing physical strain. Additionally, adequate seating (e.g., ergonomic chair or synchro office chair) is essential, but it must accompany the proper height of all workstations, displays, and devices, as well as movement throughout the day.
Employees Need Balance
- Employees value flexibility, and businesses appear to be moving toward a hybrid workweek model, where individuals split their time between the office and home. This approach is popular among employees because it encourages a healthy work-life balance.
- People who spend time away from their screens are more creative and productive and can slow down to process information. Employees require breaks, but they must also be encouraged to take them. Allow for pauses throughout the day and encourage eating away from the desk.
Living at Work
When you work and live in the same space, it isn’t easy to switch off work mode. The workforce is experiencing burnout, and while 70% of employees want to continue some degree of remote work, individuals must establish boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance.Additionally, workers in industries such as healthcare, food service, transportation, and first responders have never been able to unplug and recharge. Quality time off helps alleviate the stress from what seems to be a double full-time job during the pandemic.
Employees Want Their 80,000 Hours to Count
When people dedicate approximately 80,000 hours of their lives to their careers, they get to discover what makes those hours worthwhile and beneficial to their lives. Many things transformed as a result of the pandemic, but it also served as a magnifying glass for what was most important in people’s lives. Employees traded in their daily long commutes for daily walks to their home workspace, face-to-face meetings for virtual meetings, and a pre-pandemic mentality for one that suddenly felt unconstrained.We can’t expect everything to return to normal anytime soon or possibly ever, including our attitudes toward our jobs and how and where we work. However, employees do know one thing for sure. They want to make the most of those precious 80,000 hours—and employers can help make every one of them count.