Kontakt.io Director of Enterprise Sales Sam Biggerstaff recently took part in a special webinar hosted by WORKTECH, Enabling the Human-Centric Digital Workplace. Sam was a featured speaker and one of four guests representing fields ranging from digital tech to real estate management to workplace consultancies to coworking spaces. The webinar covered a number of angles on the main topic and was full of interesting insights, enlightening discussions, and some excellent takeaways for anyone interested in how technology is enabling a new, human-centric digital workplace.
Here are some of those takeaways along with with some background for anyone just becoming familiar with the topic:
Human and digital workplaces? Yes! Don’t let the terminology confuse you. Two terms that seem to be opposites, or at least very different, can both describe the same space and the same movement that’s changing the way we look at those spaces. In this case, we’re talking about how data (the digital part) is increasingly being used to improve conditions and outcomes for staff and other occupants (the human part) in modern workspaces. Data is easier to collect than ever before and is finding applications that make office spaces better places to work and to simply be. Investing in digital infrastructures is now widely recognized as crucial to enhancing safety, well-being, and the overall experience of any business’ greatest asset — its people.
Employees have options like never before and there must be a compelling argument for them to return to the office. Staff everywhere have choices in terms of how, when, and from where they work. For organizations that want to encourage employees to return to the office, at least part of the time, there is no better way than through the use of data to improve the workplace and make it a more attractive and productive place to be. When tangible improvements are made, employees feel valued and, at the same time, feel like they are getting some value from coming to the office to work instead of staying home. Companies are forced to compromise on their demands and invest more time in discovering where the best solution lies.
Safety is still job #1. It doesn’t matter what the statistics say, how the news cycle has changed, or how much COVID fatigue has set in — ensuring a safe return to work is still the top priority for everyone. While the conversation has changed between the start of the pandemic and now, getting people back to work in a safe way that complies with local regulations (a big job for multinationals), remains at the top of every list of priorities. Thinking about all the new possibilities created by the reset and the way we use space can distract us from the fundamental truth that the danger is still there and reluctance among many staff to return to the office is a legitimate concern that must be addressed.
Time to realign and right-size to accommodate the new hybrid workspace. Let’s say you’ve adequately addressed safety concerns and are making full use of digital technology to reshape your workspace into a more productive, inviting, and generally attractive place to work. That’s great but a certain rather significant portion of your staff are still going to stay home, at least most of the time. The hybrid office isn’t some midway stage between two different landscapes — it’s here to stay. That means that pre-pandemic real estate commitments are a bad (and very expensive) mismatch going forward. In fact, you could even argue that any pre-COVID calculations are useless now and the focus going forward should be on making sense of (and taking advantage of) what we’ve learned in the last two years. Whether this means less space or better use of the space you have, data can inform better decision-making when it comes time to better define the exact amount of space you need to function properly without unnecessary excess costs.
The trend is going up but there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to returning to the office. Taking the global perspective, the panel guests said that while things are slowly returning to the old norm when it comes to working from the office, there is still a lot of regional variation. There’s a lot of space between hyper-hybrid and hardly-hybrid, complicating the policy-making of dispersed organizations looking for a uniform policy regarding how their staff has to work.
Successful workplaces put a spotlight on the employee experience. It might be the chance to build a community, the opportunity to be more physically comfortable than remaining at home, simply meeting employee expectations, or any number of other things. Whatever it may be, employees must feel like they’re getting something out of their trip to the office that results from a conscious effort on behalf of the employer. Employees will respond to upgrades in office life that evolve from a shift in the approach to their well-being. Again, when we put humans in the middle of everything, good things happen.
Pulling or pushing employees back to the office? There’s a clear winner. It’s easy to find examples of both using what essentially amounts to threats and ultimatums (pushing) and offering enticements to make the office look like a better choice (pulling) when it comes to strategies to fill desks. Guess which one is working much better than the other? The details vary from one organization to another but pulling staff back to the office is clearly the way to go. Employees will continue to make their own decisions about where to work and investing in making workspaces a better place to be can pay off handsomely.
ROI has become flexible to accommodate the new reality. In most instances, return on investment is still something that you calculate with some precision. However, in the case of changing workspaces, management takes a different approach by necessity. This is because, although they can’t yet be measured, the increases in productivity, engagement, attendance, and other improvements brought about by digital investments in the workplace definitely mean something, even if they can’t be quantified. There is unquestionably a significant return, even if it can’t be expressed in dollars and cents.
That should give you an idea of how the conversation flowed from one topic to another, with great input from the guest panelists throughout. For more details on these points and more, you can watch the webinar here.
Leveraging IoT to create human-centric working environments is now a must. Putting humans at the center of a digitally-enhanced workspace has proven to be the key to many benefits, particularly in the post-pandemic transition. If you want to learn more about how Kontakt.io can help put your organization on the path to better productivity, more efficient operations, and improved employee engagement, reach out to our team todayand set up a meeting.
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