Seven Employee Needs in the Blended Workplace

After more than 18 months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are still charting a new roadmap for what work looks like and how it gets done. Many employers have embraced the hybrid workplace trend, while others are convinced that the pendulum will swing the other direction, and workers will return to the office full-time.

Group of creative people having a meeting

No matter which side of the coin your company lands, no one will be returning to the workplace as if nothing has happened. The workplace experience will be forever altered and under constant scrutiny and reevaluation.

The past year has presented many short-term operational challenges that businesses have had to overcome. As companies resume on-site work, leaders continue to face new obstacles that impact worker safety including how to distance people in the workplace, instilling increased safety measures in facilities, and even accommodating employees working remotely through technology solutions. In a post-pandemic world, real estate, facility, and human resources (HR) leaders must quickly pivot focus to improved workplace experience to attract, engage, and retain top talent.

Working models and habits are shifting and the future of work has become blended. One element impacting the blended workplace is where people will be physically working. Some employees will be in the office full or part time, while many employees will continue to work from home. Another element this working model introduces is the natural blending of employees’ work and personal lives. As the future of work evolves, employees will be looking to their employers for guidance on how to strike a balance in this new normal.

Regardless of whether your company chooses a flexible, hybrid working model, or is requiring all employees to be back on-site full-time, it is time to offer a blended, next-generation workplace experience.

A blended approach that offers curated experiences to workers, in an inclusive manner, is the future of work.

It is not only about shifting from on-site to virtual; it is also about recognizing that one size does not fit all. In a post-pandemic world where work and life have blended, it is critical that employers embrace these changes—for the health and wellbeing of employees, and the business as a whole. In the new normal, a 25-year-old employee feeling isolated in a small studio apartment has different needs than a 35-year-old  employee with three children at home. It is up to real estate, facility, and HR leaders to ensure that their organizations remain an employer of choice for both.

ISS has identified seven employee needs in the blended workplace where inclusivity is front and center regardless of where employees work and what they do:

•  One source of truth for company information and news 
•  Relevant  campus,  local,  and  global  information
•  Encouragement  and  nudging  toward  healthy  habits 
•  Virtual resources such as at-home workouts or recipes to boost the immune system •  Safe on-site meditations or fitness classes 
•  Benefits that support mental health
•  Clean, equipped workstations and safe, accessible office amenities 
•  Office supply delivery kits 
•  Local  grocery  vendor  delivery
•  Connection with friends and peers virtually at home or safely in the office 
•  Employee resource groups with in-person and virtual gatherings 
•  Virtual  classes  for  professional  development  or  relationship  building
•  Retreats and/or outlets within the workplace for breaks 
•  Bring the outside indoors through virtual tours of landmarks or cooking classes 
•  Physical and virtual connection lounges
•  On-site  child-care 
•  Workplace policies that provide sufficient support to employees and their families 
•  Ideas  to  keep  children  entertained  and  support  home  schooling 
•  Offer flexible work options
Virtual Joy
•  Create memorable moments in the workplace and virtually through live entertainment 
•  Host virtual or in-person happy hours 
•  Create  outlets  for  in-person  or  virtual  impromptu  gatherings
Taking on and attempting to implement all seven key areas at one time can be daunting. If your campus or facility does not have a dedicated workplace experience manager or technology to support workplace experience amenities, consider exploring two or three needs to begin the process of supporting a blended workforce. Collecting feedback from employees to determine areas that would help maintain engagement as they work from home, in the office, or both, is a good way to get started. 
As we reinvigorate workplaces, real estate, facility, and HR leaders must continue to create meaningful connections between employers and employees. Now, they must do so with an increasingly remote and flexible workforce. In the way forward, companies that clearly align their people, culture, and workplace strategy to business outcomes will stand out from the rest.