UK BLOG - three minute read

Rekindle that workplace spark 


Will Richards, Head of Workplace Experience at ISS UK posits the new approach required to rekindle our relationship with the post-COVID workplace experience. Here’s his ode to the workplace relationship - first published in FMJ magazine

'We were just on a break...'

How many relationships have this refrain echoing in their ears as they consider coming back together? Our relationship with the office has changed fundamentally since Q1 2020. Prior to March 2020 we learnt together, we collaborated together, we socialised together, and we did that day-to-day stuff together. We then had a very abrupt separation.

Now, perhaps the time is ripe to rekindle that spark for the workplace. The vast majority of corporate workers haven’t seen a great deal of each other. But in August 2021, we started to think about rekindling that relationship and how it can be mutually beneficial to all parties.

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Workplace, we missed you

As we return to our offices in some shape or form we know that to truly make this relationship work there will need to be some changes. There has been much written on workplace design and its use as a tool to attract and retain talent but here, I want to focus on the ‘workplace experience’.

Over the past few years, we have heard the term ‘workplace experience’ pop up in conversation more and more; what does it mean, who is responsible for it and how important is it?

Over the last 10 years we have seen a significant change in the design of workplaces. Traditional desks are being drawn down and replaced with collaboration zones, touch-down spaces and amenities that do more than just provide a place to eat and drink. This ‘trend’ will continue post-pandemic and more will be done to integrate the digital and physical workplaces.

However, your workplace experience is far more than the digital and physical aspects. It needs to connect with the employee on a human level too. Your workplace needs to be centred around employees wants and needs.

Find the elusive workplace experience

You need to have the right culture, the right processes and policies in place for your employees to really get the most out of their environment. Compare the experience you expect of a restaurant – the welcome, the ambiance, the food and the service. Why should your workplace not provide a similar experience?

Our relationship with workplace has changed

The pandemic led to a meteoric shift in the way we work and our relationship with the physical workplace has changed. There have been noticeable benefits from working remotely; 80 per cent of respondents to a poll conducted by ISS UK via LinkedIn December 2020-March 2021 cited the advantages of an improved work/life balance and reduced commuting so it’s important to listen to the data when making decisions.

...we expect flexibility

The return to office space will also allow us to reset our offerings and better define how colleagues use and interact with their workplace. Industry data published by the BBC suggests the majority of corporate employees will look to frequent the office two to three days a week. Digital tools will be key to seamlessly traversing the spaces and maintaining productivity and engagement.

...and support for our wellbeing

When colleagues attend the office, they need to ensure they have access to the right spaces, the right technology, the right resources, and the right people. They to be inspiring and consider their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as being functional. Indeed, 41 per cent of poll respondents cited that they are likely to be more productive and happier in their workplace if they are better supported from a wellbeing perspective. They also want to know that basics are done brilliantly (cleaning, building access, wayfinding, catering etc.) so they can focus on delivering the task in hand.


Keep the spark alight

Creating the right experience is a joint effort; it needs the voice of the colleague to be front and centre to ensure they are really being heard. The workplace experience will evolve and the constant feedback and input from colleagues will be crucial in ensuring the journey is one that works for both parties.

With the right experience, and a bit of effort, you can rekindle the desire for the workplace and have highly engaged employees – which will only have positive outcomes for your business. 

You can read the full article in FMJToday