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70% of executives plan to get employees back to their desks at least part-time by fall 2021, according to a LaSalle Network survey. JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and others are well on the way to moving their employees out of their homes into office space.
These corporate titans, my question: Why keep the status quo? Gallup Polls show that nearly half of America’s workers want to work from home. This was originally a way to prevent Covid-19 transmission. It has now become a daily routine.
My information technology consulting company’s office was a rethinking of the traditional idea of an office. This could lead to people being forced back into old office space, which would be a loss of many talent. We could be creative, collaborative, and compassionate leaders that can drive competitive advantage.
As the founder and CEO of Windward Consulting, I believe executives have a fleeting opportunity to reinvent the modern workspace. This opportunity is mine. I am transforming my old corporate office into a collaborative destination. The new workplace vision is based on collaboration and holistic assessments of employee well-being.
Make sure people have the opportunity to do their best work.
Leaders must be able to hear what their employees are saying and offer suggestions on how to make them more productive during times of change, particularly in the workplace. We must listen to our employees.
My employees don’t like to return to the office. During the pandemic they showed that they are able work remotely. They never miss a moment working remotely.
Are we missing the human connection? Yes.
Zoom meetings are great. However, the platform makes it difficult to foster the type of office banter and camaraderie that build trust. Online happy hours can only take you so far when building a team. Ideally, colleagues should meet to share their thoughts, laughter, and bonds — but they also need to be able to work remotely.
Our unique way of working remotely while maintaining company culture will be facilitated by a flexible gathering space that goes beyond offices and coworking spaces. It’s called a collaboration spot. This is not the place where you work. We won’t have enough desks to accommodate everyone in the office from Monday to Friday.
Collaboration destination is small space that allows for collaboration (about 3,000 sq. ft.). It’s packed with technology, conference rooms, and desks but light on office supplies and workstations. This space is like a private Starbucks, inviting and eclectic with lots of ideas. Maybe we will even have a barista.
Collaboration destinations are a perk and not a requirement. This allows for genuine connection to be fostered and encourages creativity. However, designing and building a collaborative destination is only the first step. You can’t make it happen on its own. It must be the main theme of your workplace culture. This should then be supported with a progressive remote program, and an extensive look at workplace wellbeing.
Remote work policies are dead. Instead, create a remote collaboration program
Your workforce should have control over those processes that most affect them. This is how collaboration destinations work. Your employees will be able to collaborate and innovate with the help of schedules and offices that are flexible for them.
Although I work remotely, I do not believe in creating a remote policy. The “three days in, two days out” hybrid approach taken by companies like Apple is senseless. This rigid schedule is designed to please leadership, create policies and maximize productivity. It does not address work/life balance.
My goal is to allow people the freedom and control they need, not like some companies that have remote policies. It doesn’t matter if I work three days in a commercial office or at home. Zoom calls can be used for announcements and walking through process steps. Also, this is not the place to make connections.
Develop a program for remote collaboration instead of mandating remote policies. Leadership and employees have contributed to the creation of our remote collaboration program. This program is open to all employees and meets their needs regarding meeting times, equipment and scheduling. Although our program may not work for your organization, it will help you and your employees to find the best solution.
Our remote collaboration program was the inspiration for our collaboration destination. It is supported by it. My productivity in the workplace is incredibly low. My best work is done at home alone. However, I enjoy gathering with people, which I also heard from my colleagues. We decided to make the most of our office by making a place where everyone can meet whenever they like. This is a place to get away from the office walls and a chance for colleagues to talk about their Netflix binges. It also serves as a space where they can invent with each other while enjoying a great cup of coffee.
Take employee issues into consideration.
Leadership must ensure that employees are well-respected in order to create a collaborative destination. You won’t have the time to monitor your employees eight hours per day. And who would want to? You must be especially attentive to your employees’ mental and physical well-being.
Do you often see your employees sitting at their kitchen tables and answering phones on the couch, shushing their antsy children? You are fooling yourself if you believe is their problem, and not mine.
Leaders must understand and accept that families will take care of themselves first. This is what they should. Also, we must address any business consequences. If employees are hunched over laptops at the kitchen table, they won’t be able to perform their best work. They won’t be able focus if their children are jumping off the wall.
Collaboration is essential for our employees. Pay attention to your employees. Which equipment is needed? Are they eligible for a loan in order to remodel their home and create an office at home? Are they required to change their work schedule to accommodate childcare?
It’s not as frightening as you might think. It will make employees more productive, creative and loyal by addressing their personal needs. This will be reinforced by providing them with an environment where they can recharge and refresh themselves.
Future is about collaboration
My opinion about the importance and value of company headquarters has drastically changed over the past year. My team used to be physically close to me from Monday through Friday. It’s now that we need to think beyond the status quo, and consider the whole environment that we are creating for our employees.
Even after a pandemic, gathering areas are vital, but must be managed in an appropriate manner. Leaders can break old rules now that the pandemic has shaken the profession and begin to identify the best path forward for employees and their company. My company believes that moving forward requires us to leave our offices. This means allowing my employees to be flexible while still maintaining culture and the desire for collaboration. This means accepting a collaborative destination and supporting the culture.
Publiated at Sun, 12 Sep 2021 16:18:04 +0000