Some anthropologists define a human habitat as a home—a place where all our needs are met. Though humans can, in theory, adapt to any habitat, we’re at our best when we have comfort, companionship, tools to do work, and varied spaces to suit our moods and activities. This also applies to the workplace: a space where you want people to feel connected and aligned.
But, your workplace habitat can’t just be beautiful and comfortable. It also needs to be functional and supported by the right technology, programs, and spaces.
Christy Hecht, Director of Product Marketing at Envoy, thinks about the growth and adoption of workplace technologies every day. Here are the highlights from our interview with her from our latest report, The workplace of the future: Human happiness and high-tech spaces.
Productivity and comfort: Balancing competing priorities for workplace technology
Throughout her career, the common thread has always been to focus on technology that makes life at work more enjoyable. “Technologies that make the team more productive are important,” she says, “but you also have to think about what working with these tools and following these processes feels like for the employee.” Workplace leaders, says Hecht, should be asking questions like:
- Are we making work or data too accessible?
- Is this negatively affecting employee morale?
That, Hecht believes, is where the mindset of the future workplace is focused.
This mindset should drive a selection of workplace technology that supports the work being done, but not if it comes at a cost to employee mental health. “There was a prediction back in the 1950s that technology would cut your workday down to four hours a day,” she explains. “ What happened instead is that tech enables you to work all the time.” In other words, it’s up to all of us to be mindful of our own and other people’s workloads and make sure workplace technology and processes aren’t infringing on work-life balance.
Employees are now the customer—and their needs should come first
Over the past few years, there has been a significant shift from what the employer expects in the workplace and what employees want, need, and expect from their place of work. Employees are more engaged than ever in intentionally choosing companies to work for that match their work styles and values.
In many industries, the balance of power has shifted, and employers have to be constantly thinking about how to attract new employees and keep current employees happy. Today, notes Hecht, “your employee is one of your customers and the way you think about their happiness and health matters much more.”
Creating a more personalized workplace experience
So, how do you curate a personal workplace experience that acknowledges individual needs and preferences? Pay close attention to your employees and build a workplace that caters to all work styles and all types of people.
“In the future, more offices will have proactive technology that helps you book meeting rooms, adjust desk settings, and find packages delivered to the office,” Hecht suggests.
“More attention will be paid to providing nutritional food and beverage options. Physical and mental programs will be implemented, like regular office yoga sessions and free career coaching. Mother’s rooms will be reserved for women returning from maternity leave. There will be more options for silent workrooms or heads-down spaces for people who prefer that. We’ll be able to accommodate people who have light or sound sensitivity and any disabilities.”
The common theme? Workplaces will invest more in recognition that different people work in different ways, and build their workplace experience strategy around this concept. The office of the future will be set up to facilitate more human connection to make coming to work enjoyable and fulfilling.
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