The Workplace: how it will emerge as a major player in talent attraction & retention


During the COVID19 pandemic, many people spent over 12 months working from home. Will Richards highlights three key strategies to attract talent back to the workplace

Strategies and drivers

Three best workplace strategies to attract and retain talent

There are many strategies and drivers to attract and retain talent; recognition & reward, career progression, purpose of the company and innovation to name a few. However, one area often overlooked and one that is coming into focus more than ever is the Workplace. The Workplace is not only a physical asset but a brand asset too. It should reflect your culture, your heritage, and your future. In a post COVID environment the Workplace will evolve considerably and no longer a place that we once just worked from.

The three best workplace strategies to attract and retain talent are:

1. Create a truly flexible and collaborative workplace

The modern Workplace must flex to support the ever-changing demands of its workforce, it must enable productivity and it needs to align its service offerings to meet the demands of its users. A poll conducted by ISS UKindicated that over half (59%) of participants were in favour of continuing to work from home for 60% of their time, whilst 67% of poll respondents citing time with colleagues as the factor they missed most about their Workplace. This highlights the importance of the office as a place to collaborate, interact and socialise in person whilst maintaining a flexible approach that allows individuals to identify the best space for them to work from. 


… a flexible approach that allows individuals to identify the best space for them to work from


...the importance of the office as a place to collaborate, interact and socialise … whilst maintaining a flexible approach …

It will take some time to strike this balance as we navigate the uncertainty that surrounds a return to the office, but all the signs point to this creating an equal relationship between employer and employee.

The look and feel of Workplaces will change. With over one-third (38%) of poll respondents indicated they were as productive working at home, gone are the days of everyone anchoring themselves to a desk and then nipping into meetings etc.  Desks will now be in the minority and the office will be dominated by collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and social spaces to meet and eat. Services will need to support this newfound flexibility and furniture will need to be adaptable to support agile teams.


Gone are the days of everyone anchoring themselves to a desk and then nipping into meetings etc.

2. Invest in workplace technologies

It is c.50 years since we entered the Digital Age. The workforce is relatively evenly split between those that are Digital Immigrants (born pre-1980) and Digital Natives (born post 1980) but one thing that binds us is our total reliance on technology to function effectively. We shop online, pay our bills online, we communicate online but where the Workplace is concerned, we are still relatively binary. 

It is only recently that we have seen the advancements of app-based technologies in the Workplace. Whether it be to book rooms, book in visitors or car parking spaces it is not widely adopted. Firstly, it requires financial investment and then it requires a cultural shift to embrace the technology. It’s there to make us more efficient; to save us time and in turn make us more productive. So, what can we expect?  Work-based communications apps to share internal news; tech ‘nudges’ to inform colleagues about safe behaviours and security measures; contactless offices that adopt voice and facial recognition for the most routine tasks (think space bookings), and AI solutions to replace repetitive tasks.

Online collaboration and communication tools are not just the reserve of those working remotely. They will be as prevalent in the office as we connect between regions and countries; share real time data and musings during stand ups and town halls. They will keep us connected, informed and educated as we traverse the hybrid Workplace. 

3. Put health and well-being at the heart of the workplace

There is no better time to invest in health and well-being. Health-related lost productivity is costing the UK economy an estimated £91 billion.2 As we emerge from a global pandemic where personal and workplace hygiene has been scrutinised, colleagues are going to want to return to a Workplace that is not just clean but has a visible presence ensuring it remains clean. 21% of poll respondents indicated that COVID-secure measures will support their decision to return to the office.

Health and well-being is more than just having a gym on site and some smoothies to hand. It’s about providing the right types of furniture, access to natural light, biophilia, spaces where people can relax, escape and grab nutritious and wholesome food.  If one of the key business KPIs is productivity and engagement, then employers must do everything in their powers to support this; and creating a physically and mentally compliant Workplace is a great place to start.

  1. Poll conducted by ISS UK via LinkedIn December 2020-March 2021
  2. Britain's Healthiest Workplace 2019 Survey and ONS Data

Will RichardsHead of Workplace Experience at ISS UK


The poll by ISS UK was carried out during ‘Lockdown 3’ from December 2020-March 2021. Respondents were asked seven questions via a poll on the ISS UK Facilities Services LinkedIn account, which was open to the general public. A total of 1,118 people responded to the questions which offered fixed and open answers:

  1. If you have been mostly working remotely during the pandemic, how do you feel about returning to the workplace?
  2. What would persuade you back to the workplace?
  3. How do you feel the org you work for responded to pandemic challenges?
  4. If you could choose, what would be your ideal work circumstance?
  5. What’s been the main benefit to you from WFH?
  6. If you have worked more remotely/from home, what have you missed about the workplace
  7. What support would make you more productive/happy in the workplace?

Download the results of the poll here.

The summary of the poll can be found here.