The workplace is here to stay. Despite the world going remote during the pandemic, the importance of the workplace has never been higher. It’s why 58% of organizations invested more in their physical offices last year than previously. Having physical workplaces can pay dividends for your business in so many ways. It brings your dispersed employees together again IRL. It also helps foster in-person communication, collaboration, and problem-solving among coworkers. And when folks enjoy their workplace, their job, and their teammates, your company's culture flourishes. In this post, we’ll explore four ways distributed offices benefit your enterprise and employees.
1. The workplace helps people communicate and collaborate
A survey by WeWork found that people’s ability to brainstorm effectively dropped by 11-15% when they shifted to remote working. Over time, this can have a significant and detrimental effect on business output. Continued frustration over not getting the answers or results people need from others can cause them to switch off or disengage. Enterprises with a distributed work model can use their offices around the world to connect people together. Employees can communicate and collaborate, improving productivity by around 20-25%. When folks are together in the same place, you can help to eliminate the problem of task-switching. This is something that 68% of people feel can be overwhelming. By being in the office, folks can zone in without feeling distracted by too many methods of communication and tasks.While technology is out there to help connect everyone virtually, it’s clear that face-to-face communication still stands as the most effective method to simply get stuff done and feel a part of your organization.
2. The workplace encourages community
Friendships are born outside of meeting rooms. But that isn’t to say they’re not made at work at all. According to a recent The New York Times article, folks with friends at work report being more engaged with their jobs. They also have seven times higher job satisfaction. This can be a problem for people who work in silos or work from home. It can be difficult to build a strong relationship with coworkers through screen time, all of the time. To tackle this, enterprises must organize team, department, or even company-wide events. This gives people a chance to get together in-person, in the workplace. Remember to balance fun events that allow people to socialize with work events, where people can discuss and collaborate together. An example might be getting everyone together for an all-hands meeting in-person. This can encourage a feeling of workplace community and help people solidify friendships. It can also encourage people to connect about work, such as upcoming deadlines, company vision, and team goals.
3. The workplace drives purpose
Creating a workplace that supports a sense of purpose and achievement is crucial. Being around coworkers who are working towards a common goal reinforces individual purpose within your organization. People are able to observe the actions of others and feel like they’re contributing to something. They are able to celebrate wins together. For a distributed workforce, this is crucial. Ensure your physical workplaces support this level of teamwork and interaction. This will help dispersed employees feel more connected to the organization on a global scale.
4. The workplace supports cross-functional interaction
It can be annoying not having the right person for the job there when you need them. And while technology has filled the human interaction gap by helping us to communicate together from anywhere, it still doesn’t beat real life conversations and support. Encouraging your employees to visit and work from different offices around the world will produce a multitude of benefits for your enterprise. It’ll drive that one-team, one-mission experience between coworkers and diminish any siloed feelings–especially those in satellite or regional offices. It’ll also offer folks a chance to meet and work with others they haven’t met yet. This supports cross-functional interaction and, ultimately, helps drive results for your enterprise. For example, encouraging IT folks to visit different office locations on a regular basis will give people valuable face-to-face time, helping to fix any issues, diffuse any tension, and keep folks working productively together.
How to manage the workplace experience across distributed offices
A survey by Microsoft indicated that over half (55%) of people consider the physical work environment in their decision to stay at or leave a company. So whether you are operating on a hybrid model or HQ model, you want your workers who visit your office or coworking space to have a highly motivating experience. Creating a quality workplace experience – especially across the globe – means you must strike the right balance between consistency and uniqueness in each location. There are several companies that do this well. Tech giants like Google and Facebook are renowned for their workplace experience across the globe. Slides, gyms, and restaurants are common across all of their offices. But for some locations, these businesses have gone the extra mile. Google, for example, has installed a 25m swimming pool, basketball court, and a roof garden in their London HQ. You may not have the mega-budget of tech giants, but there are few cost-effective ways you can design your workplace experience worldwide. Here’s a few to consider.
- Consider what each office needs–and doesn’t. Each global office will naturally be home to different teams and numbers of employees. Take this into account when designing and improving your workplace experience. Creating spaces with purpose will serve your employees better when they’re onsite.
- Include cultural cues. Consider the culture of where your office is located and of the employees who call it their homebase. For example, many enterprises will name their meeting rooms in relation to the surrounding area. For London, you might want famous buildings or landmarks like Buckingham Palace. For San Francisco, you could have Golden Gate Park. These small thoughts will help employees feel at home in your offices.
- Get creative with workplace design. Pop of color? A games area? Quiet pods? Designing your space effectively will help dispersed employees want to make the journey to be onsite. Remember to give all of your office locations some love when it comes to workplace design. Replicating the same quality design across every office will help drive your brand and keep people engaged and refreshed while at work.
- Provide food in the workplace. According to LinkedIn, 55% of employees felt more appreciated by their companies when they provided food for employees. This accumulated benefit offered a 150% return on investment and a higher productivity output. For enterprises with a distributed work model, providing food–especially snacks or meals local to the area–is a key way to delight your employees and get them excited about visiting the workplace.
–The workplace is more important than it ever has been, especially in a distributed work model. Organizations must create physical spaces that are stimulating, motivating, and engaging for the people that use them. That might be open plan kitchens, couches, or games rooms. Whatever it is, your workplaces must be hubs for creativity and collaboration for everyone–no matter where they are in the world.