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An Employer’s Take On The Future Of The Workplace

By News Creatives Authors , in Real Estate , at November 15, 2021

Chase Garbarino is the Co-Founder and CEO of HqO.

“The Great Resignation” and the “Future of the Office” are two of the hottest topics for executives this year. Not only are they top of mind, but they’re also interconnected. The fundamental questions about where, how, when and why people work are everywhere. They are even more prominent for those who have been burned out by Covid-19-induced overtime, which has caused many to cry foul at employers pulling them back into pre-pandemic full-time workplace schedules.

In turn, employers are scrambling to figure out fair, flexible and reasonable paths forward. Although a lot is still uncertain, one thing is abundantly clear: The pre-Covid-19 office, including the traditional Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 workweek, no longer exists. 

Introducing The Consumer-Focused Workplace

One thing matters most moving forward: providing employees with the opportunity to produce and contribute their best work through versatile tools and environments.

This means that employers need to closely assess their businesses as they relate to their staff and determine how to meet modern demands. They now must create more flexible workplaces and policies that don’t exacerbate a potential chasm among remote, hybrid and in-office employees. This is quite a task, and I empathize with people on both sides of the equation. However, employers have a unique opportunity to bridge this divide by focusing on the workplace experiences they are providing their employees.

My company, HqO, created a commercial real estate customer experience platform, so as experts of valuable workplace experiences, we lean heavily into an office-first model that maintains a high degree of flexibility for all employees. This means we don’t reserve the choice of flexibility for upper management while ordering the rest of our employees back to the office. Instead, we give everyone a degree of flexibility that best serves the business and supports our team. This brings us closer to parity and true flexibility. And, to give our staff the best of both worlds, we focus on the physical workplace experience to provide the benefits, amenities and services that employees really care about.

Hospitality: The Key To Better Experiences

The journey toward a better employee experience is filled with constant learning and a willingness to adapt. We can all learn how to offer a better employee experience, and, as many have already done, we take a page from the retail and hospitality industries. Truthfully, it makes no sense to have employees come back to the office just to sit at their desks and connect with off-site peers via Zoom. This is a terrible workplace experience, and unfortunately, one that happens all too often. The office should be about the collaboration, creativity and productivity that only in-person interactions can offer.

Hospitality businesses treasure their guests, and you can aim to hold your company to the same standard. This way, you can ensure employees are always eager to come together and enjoy the perks of the workplace. Creating experiences that are just as enjoyable as they are meaningful keeps everyone engaged and satisfied. For the employer, they can attract and retain top talent. For employees, they can receive the same (and, in many cases, more) conveniences and delights at the office that are available to them at home. Additionally, an on-site culture that promotes socialization, collaboration and engagement also demonstrates that employers are actively listening to their employees.

A Modern Look And Feel

At the most basic level, the modern workplace looks a little different. Not only does it require plenty of space for collaboration (think of flexible office space and coworking environments) and safe social distancing, but it also needs to incorporate an advanced technology stack that complements the office’s physical design. Employers can also consider leveraging space from property teams that are willing to invest in their building community in the same ways they want to invest in their employees.

Tenant experiences can also accomplish many things. For example, you could partner with local retailers to offer much-needed convenience services, diverse food and beverage options and contactless dining. You could host physical and digital events that connect your team to establish a sense of camaraderie and friendliness for those looking to get more out of the workplace. Consider asking for thoughtful feedback on the spaces and experiences that you offer to help inform future investments, too.

Of course, not all employers will have the ability to influence large-scale strategies for an entire building. However, they can still think outside of the box to support their employees and create a better workplace experience.

Experiences Drive The Future

By not leaning into hours worked and by focusing instead on workplace experiences that improve output and work quality, employers can find themselves on the right side of history. We all must adapt to the ways people want to live and work. Whether an employee wants to go to a soccer game, take a class during their lunch break or drop off their dry cleaning between meetings, every experience has merit. Being open and responsive to these needs can lend to enhanced productivity, well-being and trust in your employer brand.

Spaces and experiences that are positive, engaging and enjoyable are the future of work. As best-selling author Joseph Pine said at one of our recent company conferences, “In the Experience Economy, experiences are what people want.”

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