Businesses this year have many new challenges—and with them new opportunities. While some are figuring out the ideal number of days on-site, others are hosting engaging workplace events. While some are figuring out what to do with unused office space, others are figuring out how to set up hot desking. One thing is certain though: businesses are redefining their workplace strategy. A workplace strategy allows companies to clearly outline their goals for their workplace and communicate those expectations to employees. To keep up with the changes of the last few years and prepare for what lies ahead, it’s important for businesses to have a clearly defined plan in place so employees and leaders all understand the larger goals. In this post, we’ll outline the six steps you should take to create a strategy for your workplace. But first, let’s start with a definition.
What is a workplace strategy?
A workplace strategy aligns your company’s processes and work environment to achieve your business’s goals. That may sound like a tall order if you oversee multiple, diverse workplaces. But keep in mind that there’s no one “right” strategy—your strategy will be as unique as your company values and business goals. Your workplace strategy is made up of tools, physical office space, employee behavior, and company culture. For example, you need to have the right workplace tools in place such as employee scheduling to foster on-site collaboration. Plus, you need to have enough meeting rooms to accommodate your meeting-heavy work culture. Every workplace has different objectives and needs, but it’s important that your particular work culture is supported by the tools, office space, and policies you outline in your workplace strategy. Like most projects, it helps to break it down into pieces. Let’s take a closer look at the six key components to building a thoughtful and actionable workplace strategy.
6 Steps for defining your workplace strategy
1. Align your business objectives
As you start to define your workplace strategy, first consider the larger context of your business. Whether your company aims to increase revenue, reduce costs, or engage employees, your workplace strategy should help the company achieve these objectives. Think about the company’s current priorities, and what you expect the priorities will be in the next three to five years. For instance, is your company gearing up for rapid expansion after a new round of funding? Or are you reducing spend on expansion and focusing on employee retention?Use the answers to these questions to craft your objectives as a workplace organization. Your objectives should illustrate at a high level what your team intends to accomplish in a set period.
2. Understand your employee’s preferences
A workplace is only a workplace because of the employees who come in and bring their passion, energy, and ideas. So when defining your workplace strategy, make sure you consider what your employee’s preferences are and how they would like to use their workplace. Start by sending out a company-wide survey to understand how employees would like to make use of the workplace. For instance, find out the ideal number of days they’d like to work on-site, what amenities they use most, and their openness to new programs. Add a suggestion section to figure out if your employees have a unique idea to contribute. For example, maybe your employees want more small meeting pods for phone calls or 1:1s. Once you’ve gotten a better understanding of how your employees feel about their work preferences and their workspace, you can outline what kind of hybrid work policy you want to implement. Plus, you’ll have better insight into space management to make the hybrid work policy meet employees’ expectations.
3. Understand the current state of your workplace
Regardless of where you want your workplace to go, it’s important to start by taking stock of where you are. Take a pulse of your workplace and assess whether or not it’s in alignment with your goals. Use these key metrics to figure out where you currently stand:
- Space management: How many people (employees, contractors, visitors, etc.) use the office each day? What percent of your desks and conference rooms are used and how often? How much of your space is vacant or goes unused?
- Operational costs of workplaces: What’s the cost per square foot? Cost per employee? Total workplace costs as a percent of revenue?
- Security and compliance: Do your workplaces comply in full with all health, privacy, and building access regulations?
- Employee satisfaction: Are employees satisfied with the workplace environment and amenities provided? How many reports of workplace maintenance issues or tech issues do you receive? How quickly are issues resolved?
- Employee engagement: Are employees happy with their workplace? Do they feel engaged and excited to be there?
- Energy efficiency: How much energy do your real estate assets consume? How much of this energy comes from renewable sources?
- Revenue of workplaces: What revenue could you generate each month from tenants, events, or other short-term leases?
Once you’ve started to outline where your organization is currently excelling or needs improvement, you can include suggestions for how to better optimize your workplace in your workplace strategy.
4. Figure out what tools you’ll need
In order for a workplace to run smoothly, you need tools to help fuel the interactions between employees, their workspaces, and their building. Many companies that went fully remote in the last few years relied on tools such as Zoom, Slack, or other virtual collaboration tools to keep their employees connected. A workplace is the same way. To keep employees connected and easily able to move through their days on-site, you need to invest in tools that will support your initiatives. For example, are you implementing a hot desking strategy? You’ll need a desk booking tool for that. Are your employees bringing in clients again on-site? You’ll need a visitor management tool for that.Think about your current workplace tools and evaluate whether or not they are serving your new strategy. Tools will help you make sure your strategy doesn't just stay a strategy on paper but is actually able to come to life in your office.
5. Get specific and document it all
Now that you’ve done the research part of building your workplace strategy, it’s time to take pen to paper and write down everything you hope to accomplish with your new strategy. You’ll want to get as specific as possible to make sure you’re able to get from point A (today) to point B (wherever you plan to go).Rather than list out tactics, your strategy should explain where you will focus your efforts and why. Say, for instance, that your objective is to reduce your cost per square footage. Will you focus on maximizing the space you have or instead explore leasing a new space with a lower cost per square foot? If you plan to both reduce costs and also improve employee satisfaction, which will you prioritize and why? Write out the answers and get as specific as you can. Articulating your plans can help you spot untested assumptions and clarify your thinking. Before you finalize your strategy, share it with your immediate team to make sure what made it on paper is what they had in mind.
6. Communicate your plan
It’s time to socialize your plan! Deploying any strategy takes a team and a group of people invested in seeing its success. So start by sharing your strategy with key stakeholders. For example, get your executive leadership, workplace managers, HR teams, IT teams, and others all on board. Share what you propose with stakeholders and executive sponsors to get their buy-in before you start executing. Their questions and feedback will sharpen your strategy to ensure it achieves the business’s objectives. Last, make your strategy known to the people it will impact most: your employees. Share it at a company-wide meeting or join team meetings to socialize what the future holds for your workplace and why. You’ll want to provide lots of opportunities for employees to ask questions, provide their feedback, and ultimately rally around your plan. —Creating a workplace strategy is essential for coming back stronger after a challenging few years and preparing ahead for the future. Your employees have high expectations from their workplaces, and your business has important goals. A clear and well-defined workplace strategy can make sure you, your business, and your goals are all in alignment towards a great workplace.