How to build a people-centric workplace experience
Create an experience that encourages people to go into the workplace
Design a flexible experience that adapts to your people’s needs
Build a people-centric workplace by listening to your employees
Finally, creating these structures isn’t possible without executive support. To get buy-in, look for ways to highlight how this work ties to your company’s broader goals. Improving the workplace experience may seem trivial until you can prove the business value of your efforts. You may need to survey your company to gather data that will help you make your case. Include questions on these workplace topics:
- Satisfaction with their work arrangement
- Sense of belonging
- Stress or anxiety about work
- Work-life balance
- Resources and tools
Be sure to include a question about people’s likeliness to leave your company. This will help you understand how scores on the above topics might impact employee retention. Once you’ve compiled survey data, analyze it and present the most compelling stats to your executive team. Prepare to answer questions about what you’re trying to accomplish, why it’s important, how you’ll do it, what success looks like, and how you’ll measure it.
Employees who go into the office 2-3 days per week
Employees with both remote and in-office teammates
Employees who are work-from-home parents or caregivers
- Add demographic information
To paint a clearer picture of each persona, add employee demographics details. Your HR team should be able to help you pull information like employee age, role, and location from your company’s HR information system (HRIS). For example, you could find that your younger employees have a surprisingly higher preference for working on-site than Gen X and Boomers. These insights will make sure you’re basing your workplace efforts on data rather than assumptions.
- Interview employees
Based on the data, organize interviews with employees across your organization who fall within each group. Ask questions about their roles, behaviors, and attitudes about their work. This is your chance to dive deeper into the survey results and use their answers to refine the personas.
Finally, be sure to socialize these personas with your cross-functional team. This is the most important step to ensuring the work you’ve done is put to use. Meet with your team to decide how to leverage the personas in your work. Be sure to update the personas on a every quarter so they always represent your workforce and its needs.
You’ll have more success if you send these nudges out across multiple channels. For example, you might send out an email, Slack message, and include a short plug for feedback in your weekly all-hands meeting.
Don’t forget to close the feedback loop! Let employees know when you’ve incorporated their input. It’ll show them that their feedback helps shape the workplace experience. If your team decided to backlog the action item, let the employee know where their feedback sits on your list of priorities. If you don’t take action on a piece of feedback, circle back to the person who shared it and let them know why. This way, employees will know their feedback was received and thoughtfully considered. To encourage people to remain engaged, invite these employees to participate in future focus groups or other workplace initiatives when they come up in the future.
Staying on top of what’s going on in your industry is too often the first thing to fall off the list when things get busy. But making time for this work is important. Block off time on your calendar to dig into content and chat with other workplace folks. You’ll be able to bring these insights back to your team and try new approaches to solving workplace challenges.
Don’t forget the folks who are remote. Group workspaces should have technology that enables seamless collaboration with remote employees. This way, no matter where people are located, work can move forward. We’ll talk about this more a little later.
Thoughtful space management will also help keep employees healthy and ensure your company makes efficient use out of its real estate investments. 66% of employees have concerns about their health and safety in the workplace. You can assure people the workplace is safe by monitoring who’s on-site and enforcing capacity limits. For example, you may have a policy that states that collaboration spaces must not exceed 10 people. You may also rearrange furniture to increase the size of tight spaces so people can keep a safe distance.
Ask employees how they want to use the workplace and match the appropriate space types to their needs. Once you know this information, you can begin to manage your space to suit these requirements.
Heather Somaini Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at Lionsgate
We don’t need a dedicated seat for every person every day. If a workstation or an office is sitting empty on any given day, it’s wasted money. You want to have a robust, active office space and to do that you need people in it.
- Employee-designed schedules – Employees set their own schedules without any oversight from their managers or a workplace team
Employee-designed schedules are best for companies with employees that expect flexibility and can be productive when remote, such as tech companies. Employee-set schedules are also the best option for companies whose employees need to collaborate in person across many departments.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach employee schedules. What matters is that the process works for the people who have to follow them. In some cases, different teams will design their own schedules. It’s helpful to document these schedules somewhere. Pin them in the appropriate Slack channels, add them to your company intranet, and consider posting them on digital display around the workplace. This will allow employees to see when their coworkers will be in so they can plan accordingly.
We’ve covered the importance of enabling flexibility in where, when, and how employees work. Now, let’s talk about how workplace teams can partner with employees to refine the workplace experience.
Empower employees to build a meaningful experience together
A Deloitte survey suggests companies with flexible work environments will “use offices to develop more emotional connections, facilitate collaboration, and create human experiences.” To do this, help employees use the workplace in the ways that drive the most value for them. Supporting productive work is one way to do this. It’s also important for employees to be able to use the workplace to build community—especially in a hybrid work setting where workplace interactions typically revolve around meetings and work.
A third of employees say technology should be a top priority for their companies this year.
Let’s start with helping your employees collaborate efficiently. A third of employees say technology should be a top priority for their companies this year. Bring your cross-functional team together to evaluate your tech stack and invest in tools that support teamwork. Plan to augment your technology budget to increase employee access to productivity tools, real-time collaboration apps, and communication platforms.
Here’s a short list of things to consider:
- High-quality speakers and microphones
- Conference room scheduling
- Desk booking
- Digital room schedule displays
- Virtual whiteboards
- WiFi provisioning
These technologies may be new to your company. If so, pilot groups, feedback sessions, data collection, and employee interviews will be crucial to making the most of them. Also be sure to make proper investments in audiovisual support so issues that pop up are repaired with minimal disruption.
It’s also important to empower your people to use the workplace in ways that support them beyond work. This will help drive inclusion, workplace satisfaction, and reduce turnover. For example, employees may want access to conference rooms or the kitchen space to host skill-sharing events, employee resource group (ERG) meetings, or happy hours. You can help by ensuring these groups have a regular meeting space that supports their needs.
By formalizing a meeting space, people can gather and know exactly where to meet each week. Employees who opt to not attend can plan to move their work to another area of the workplace, or work remotely to avoid distraction. Another benefit to a regular meeting space is having the technology prepared to support remote participation. You can encourage organizers to include a Zoom link in the calendar invite and send out a reminder to the company over Slack before each gathering.
You can also support by making sure people are aware of these gatherings in the first place. To do this, use employee communication channels to promote the events. This will help people feel welcome and invited to take part.
Give people a variety of ways to connect
According to Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index, the pandemic has impacted how often people interact with their networks. Not only do people engage less with their extended networks, but they also talk less often with closer connections. In the early days of the pandemic, weekly calls to catch up with workplace buddies were a norm. Now, they’re just another meeting on people’s calendars.
Workplace teams need to reinforce company culture without overwhelming employees. To do this, offer ways for people to build connections that require different levels of participation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Pair new employees with a workplace buddy so your new people have an immediate connection with someone at work. Match remote employees to people who work on-site so they feel more connected to what’s going on in the workplace.
- Create special interest Slack channels for employees to join (e.g., #random, #plant-enthusiasts ). This way, people will feel connected without the pressure to engage in real-time.
- Make it easy for employees to meet people outside of their team. At Envoy, we use the Donut Slack integration to encourage employees to connect for a virtual coffee chat or peer learning exchange.
Try out a few things and see what sticks. Make sure you’re getting feedback from employees to learn what they like and what could be better. Use your employee personas to guide this work. This will help you create connection opportunities for all of your employees and will ensure everyone can remain engaged at work.
Adapting your workplace to help employees thrive in a hybrid work model isn’t a one-off effort. It can’t be solved with a fun annual gathering or comfortable seating arrangements. These things contribute to the overall experience, but they can’t solve critical company challenges related to employee retention, productivity, and attracting new talent. A strategic, ongoing effort can encourage engagement and help your company keep its people.
Work has changed. Workplace teams need to ask themselves: How are we changing our workplace experience strategy to match? This work requires cross-functional support and constant employee participation. It’s about creating flexibility in where, when, and how people do work. And, just as important, it’s about helping employees build community through shared experiences that keep them engaged.
Create a workplace where people want to be
Envoy empowers your team to do their best work by designing a workplace that makes life easier and adds a little wow to the workday. With Envoy you can show employees you’re taking their safety seriously with health checks, touchless sign-in, and capacity limits. Self-service tools empower people to book a room or desk on demand, welcome guests, pick up packages, and more. Gain insight into foot traffic and how employees use your space, so you can design a workplace for their needs. Want to start planning your company’s workplace experience strategy for a new future of work? Get in touch with our team today.