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Business leaders everywhere are faced with the challenge of achieving a balance between productivity and employee expectations in a tough economic environment.  

Employees expect their workplace to be flexible and innovative, in order for them to feel it is worth their time to come into the office. Business leaders, however, are often concerned about low productivity with many believing that this is best achieved when employees return to the office.

Microsoft recently conducted research into employees' future expectations for the workplace. The findings revealed some major insights across three dimensions: collaboration, productivity, and employee engagement. These results point to a clear need for business to redefine their offices, and how they are managed for a hybrid future.

Collaboration and Connection

Collaborating with your colleagues in person has become the number one motivator for people to come into the office. It has become a haven for collaboration, connection, creativity and rebuilding social capital.

Microsoft found.

  • 84% of employees would be motivated to go to the office for the opportunity to socialise with their co-workers.
  • 85% of people are motivated by working together to rebuild the bonds between employees.
  • 72% of employees under 35 see the office as a place where they can strengthen relationships with colleagues.
  • 59% of under 35’s, say they had a better sense of feeling part of the team after working at the office again.
  • 53% of employees say working in an office allows them to better connect to their company's culture and core values

Productivity Paranoia

Employees have embraced flexible work and its benefits and are not in any rush to go back to the daily commute to an uninspiring office.

As more companies adopt hybrid work models, there is a clear disconnect between employees and management on what constitutes productivity. This tension comes from organisations needing to ensure that productivity stays at a high level, while giving the employees what they've come to expect from remote working.

Leaders are worried the most important work isn’t getting done and they don't feel they have enough visibility into employee productivity. This has prompted what has become known as "productivity paranoia" which makes people feel like they're never working efficiently or enough.

Employees and leaders might still disagree on what constitutes productivity, but some effective leaders are moving away from keeping tabs on how many hours their staff are putting in. Instead, they focus on more important goals and objectives, like OKRs and outcomes.

Experiential Management

In this Hybrid era the bottom ine to achieving employee engagement and productivity is whether or not people like their office. Workplace matters and It matters in ways many leaders don’t realize.

Employees in the office are;

  • 33% more engaged
  • 30% more connected to their company’s culture
  • 20% more productive and
  • 9% less likely to leave.

The evidence is damning but clear, if your office performs on average or worse … you will struggle to have employees willingly to return. Yet 45% of organizations haven't invested in new facilities to meet the changing expectations of their employees.

When employees are asked to name their "dream office," there's usually one recurring theme. Provide the basics or what can be referred to as the 4 C’s

  1. Connectivity-Strong Wi-Fi and hardware equipped to seamlessly connect devices
  2. Character-Flexible hours, personalised seating and storage to enhance the workplace experience
  3. Convenience-Parking or proximity to public transport and access to food, drink services and enhanced amenities in-house
  4. Comfort- Environmental control and quiet areas for focused work

So, creating a Workplace experience that your people like is a competitive advantage.

Purposeful Presence

The current economic climate makes the cost of commuting a major factor for employees. Those employees who have a choice will do an internal cost benefit analysis of the commute.

  • 32% of people in a survey cited the cost and length of the commute as their biggest issue.
  • 26% of respondents feel they are accomplishing less in their lives because of the time taken to commute.
  • 24% of employees feel distracted from working on their focused tasks because they were called into meetings or asked to do more spontaneous tasks.
  • 20% believe the office is either too cold or too hot
  • 20% of employees also believe that their office is too loud, making it difficult to concentrate.

Employees feel as though they are forced to work from the office rather than want to. Employers have been trying to get their employees back into the office, but they need to provide a compelling reason rather than just compelling employees to return.

We're living in a new world that is constantly evolving. We need to adapt and change with the times our old models for working just won't work anymore, especially in the office. Employees need to feel respected, have a sense of community, and the ability to optimize for their needs at work but as employees come to associate the office with supporting certain tasks more effectively than their homes then the office will become a destination that is a competitive advantage for organisations.

People  I  Place  I  Performance

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