Written by Anushka Verghese, her LinkedIn: Hybrid workspaces have the potential to help improve your employee experience.
Photographer: Shridhar Gupta | Source: Unsplash
Businesses everywhere are reorganizing and reimagining their workplaces to better address employee experience
COVID-19 has ushered in lasting change in every level of society, including our day-to-day work lives. Pandemic-driven health and safety measures have necessitated long-distance work arrangements as employees were forced to perform their jobs from remote and isolated locations. Now, with the world adjusting to the so-called ‘new normal,’ those changes have taken root, and businesses everywhere are reorganizing and reimagining their workplaces to better address employee experience.
Among the differences in the post-pandemic work environment is the development of the Hybrid Workplace: combining traditional in-office personnel with partners and coworkers functioning remotely. This became a necessity when COVID-19 forced people to self-isolate, with many employers discovering unforeseen benefits to this new arrangement.
The lack of a commute and the ability to better balance their workload with family obligations found favor among many workers. Others may, of course, prefer to continue to function in a traditional office environment, where numbers may be limited due to ongoing health and safety concerns. Getting the two types of working arrangements to function in harmony constitutes a new challenge in a COVID-era business environment.
“It is critical that employers get their corporate culture and employee experience right during this period of uncertainty,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. “Both facets help ensure organizations achieve the financial, reputation and talent outcomes that will drive business outcomes and competitive advantage.
Hybrid workplaces offer tremendous opportunities to improve business efficiency, job satisfaction, and overall employee experience… provided they are approached properly. Managing the process smartly will enable you to fundamentally transform your business. According to a new McKinsey survey to 100 executives across industries and geographies, productivity and customer satisfaction have increased during the pandemic and nine out of ten organizations will be combining remote and on-site working.
The question is: How can your business take advantage of this new reality long-term? Enhancing employee experience is key, and while the details likely vary based on your company’s specific needs, there are a few core guidelines to follow to make the process easier.
Introducing Employees to the New Hybrid Environment
Hybrid work spaces need to be monitored and regulated.
Hybrid workplaces bring with them a number of significant changes to your business’s day-to-day operations. The faster and more easily the workforce can adapt—and the more tools they have at their disposal to help—the more seamless the transition will be.
That starts with new safety requirements to ensure employees’ health and maintain a sterile working environment. That means things like rotating stations and positions, which can come as a shock to employees accustomed to permanent workstations and personal space in the office. Hybrid workplaces rarely contain permanent seating, owing to the need to limit numbers in enclosed spaces and maintain social distancing protocols.
This further requires the right combination of office management and software systems which allow employees to book workspaces, meeting rooms, and other key locations within the given space. Apps available on worker phones can allow them to pre-book any workspace they might require while automatically balancing these reservations against available existing space and health and safety needs.
You can also add features like interactive maps to help workers find their way around the new office space while facilitating video conferencing and other tools to connect remote team members with the main office. Such software can also provide workers with important updates, such as changes in the health requirements and adjustments to a staggered schedule, factoring in such aspects as specific office layout and team member scheduling.
Smarten Spaces’ AI-powered solutions can help your workplace evolve quickly from fixed to flexible. We offer a comprehensive suite that will help you automate work with AI and optimize your space in alignment with the hybrid needs of your workforce. With our Desk Managemen.t feature, you can organize your workforce with a centralized management system and enable a hybrid work experience for your employees. This way, snags in your workplace transition are minimized and you ensure that both remote and in-person employees are productive and safe.
Similarly, Smart Meeting Room allows your workers to schedule space in advance, as well as ensuring that the appropriate employees are alerted and safety conditions are met. By automating such functions, these features will help your workforce transition easily into the new workspace while staying healthy and productive.
Ensure Employee Engagement and Communication
Communication among physically separated workers is key to company efficiency.
Hybrid workforces must often divide their work time between home and the office which can be a challenging balancing act. Communication is vital, not only to ensure that everyone is up to date on the things they need to know but that employees know how to navigate the various tools now used to manage their workplace and workflows. That means not only clear communication but ways to actively engage employees in the new work norms.
Workplace Experience technology provides swift, up-to-date communication with team members regardless of location. This allows them to form teams quickly—based on the project as well as availability—and schedule needed space and time in the proper meeting facilities. The better integrated those tools are with the space and needs of your team, the more you can enhance communication and ensure that all sections of your operation are functioning as they should.
Smarten Spaces’ Employee Engagement features allow for FAQs and SOPs to be distributed quickly and efficiently: keeping your workforce alerted and up to date. Community Feeds provide ready access to the workplace network, and survey and feedback features allow you to monitor and evaluate employees’ health and experiences.
Workforce Management features provide a plethora of Hybrid Scheduling and planning services: letting you address workers’ in-office vs. work-from-home options and similar factors to optimize your hybrid workplace.
Implement Smart In-Office Solutions to Enhance Employee Experience
Our technology analyzes the consumption of space and automates the entire space request procedure.
You can handle the management part of the equation, but when it comes to the proper technology to help implement a hybrid workspace, the more comprehensive the better. In addition to the kind of organizational tools outlined above, Smarten Spaces is designed to help automate and regulate important questions about health, distancing, and occupancy in your workspace. For example, Occupancy Control features can automate the percentage of your workforce that meets capacity guidelines, and easily upload layout plans and similar features unique to your workforce. Using such information can save a considerable amount of office space rentals and attendant utilities.
Our technology analyzes the consumption of space and automates the entire space request procedure.
Other features expand that capacity even further. Smart Parking can increase security at entrances as well as exits while keeping a tally of office capacity and allowing automatic entry for employees and authorized vehicles. Our Elevator Control feature does much the same: monitoring those coming and going, and ensuring that health regulations and schedules aren’t inadvertently breached.
The Ambiance and Thermal Control feature can monitor cleanliness and issue periodic reminders when sterilization procedures are needed, while Smart Cafeteria monitors traffic through common areas such as cafeterias to ensure that social distancing measures and similar precautions are properly followed. Perhaps most importantly, Smarten Spaces can be easily integrated into existing systems, including Active Directory, MS Office, G-workplace (formerly G-suite), WebEx, Skype, various Access Control and Visitor Management systems, Building Management Systems (BMS), IoT hubs, and sensors, with over 65 out-of-the-box digital technology integrations on its growing Marketplace. It even connects to printers!
Smart Solutions for Smarter Spaces
Hybrid offices are the future of the workforce, and the more effectively you can integrate, the better you can take advantage of the benefits it provides. Smarten Spaces is designed to maximize the potential of a hybrid workforce, enhancing the workplace experience for both you and your employee.
For workers, Smarten Spaces provides both ease and flexibility of use: allowing them to schedule office days according to their calendar or letting the system do the selection based on days that will have the most impact. It similarly provides scheduling software to let them set up meetings, distribute available workspaces, schedule visitors, and even order food from the employee cafeteria all from a single source.
The organization as a whole gains a number of automated benefits as well: saving workers’ time and ensuring that important tasks are taken care of the right way. That includes keeping track of service requests, adjusting cleaning schedules based on the use of space, tracking visitors and on-staff employees, and eliminating or severely reducing contact points to cut the spread of infection.
If you looking to organize your workforce with a centralized system to manage your hybrid workplace, you need a smart partner experienced in this space. Schedule an interactive demo in our Living Lab today and let Smarten Spaces turn your office into a powerhouse of productivity, flexibility, and safety.