Hendy’s Principal and Director of Workplace Strategy, Anna Alm-Grayhek, shares her insights on crafting exceptional office experiences and two client examples.
In the ever-evolving landscape of modern work, the return to the office must promise an experience that surpasses the convenience and comforts of working remotely. This is no easy task. Because individual preferences vary greatly, what constitutes an exceptional office experience will also vary, but we continue to see certain fundamental concepts emerge to shape an environment and experience that is well worth the commute.
Community & Belonging
Humans are inherently social creatures. They want a sense of connection and
belonging. Our clients know that in addition to craving human interaction, today’s
workers are socially conscious and want to contribute to the greater good. We hear a lot about how the ability to “find a tribe” of people with shared interests within the workplace fosters a collective passion for common goals. It’s essential for an office environment to reflect the organization’s brand and values, providing a unique and authentic space that will resonate with every worker.
To that effect, some organizations now offer events that cultivate shared experiences and a touch of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to further incentivize employees to return to the office by enhancing that sense of community and creating memories that will last long after the workday ends.
Flexibility & Choice
There’s no doubt that a commute becomes more worthwhile when the company offers employees a lot of flexibility. People want to have the autonomy to choose when to be in the office, aligning with both their personal and team schedules, which can vary from week to week or even day to day. Additionally, today’s workers want to be able to select and customize their workspaces to complement their personal work styles and the task at hand. That customizability extends beyond just being able to choose their favorite desk; it can include giving each person the ability to adjust lighting, temperature, and even workspace arrangements so they are more comfortable, which will ultimately more them more efficient. We all know how much the office environment has changed over the last few years and employees are craving variety. Just as they would at home, they may choose to work for a period while reclining on a sofa with their laptop and later find it’s more productive to set themselves up at a more traditional workstation or focus space with a closed door.
Opportunity & Access for Career Growth
A compelling office experience provides numerous avenues for growth and
development. More and more, we are seeing that employees who worked from home during the pandemic have found renewed enthusiasm for face-to-face interaction and the ability to connect with their colleagues at a moment’s notice. You can’t put a price tag on the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with a peer or mentor that organically occurs because you are in the same space. Newer recruits are most often those taking advantage of opportunities to interact with and learn from their supervisors while in the office. It’s these unplanned moments that can shape a career.
Access to Better Technology & Amenities
Tech and amenities are big players too. Remember those makeshift home offices that sprouted up in living rooms and dining rooms across the country? Now, companies are rolling out the red carpet with faster Wi-Fi, bigger screens, and comfy, ergonomic furniture. And let’s talk about food. It continues to be a great motivator. Forget about sad vending machines full of candy and pretzels. We’re talking kitchens stocked with great coffee, healthy food choices, and tasty snacks. These modern, comfortable kitchens often serve as social gathering places where employees meet to relax and share ideas with their colleagues.
We’re also constantly hearing how forward-thinking companies are almost trying to outdo each other with amenities that make employees’ lives easier – things like on-site laundry services and car washes, so busy workers who might be tempted to stay at home can still multitask and accomplish household chores while in the office. And of course, health and wellness continue to be a major area of focus for workers, so many companies trying to draw teams back to the office offer some type of onsite fitness option. Some even offer onsite massage and yoga sessions so employees can mindfully disconnect and recharge during the workday.
Don’t underestimate the power of engagement. It drives motivation, which results in outcomes that can ultimately drop to the bottom line. Today’s employees want to be heard. Creating a thriving company culture where employees can be active participants in how and where their work gets done starts with active involvement from company leadership.
The Pacific Companies Example
The CEO of Pacific Companies, a top nationwide physician recruiting agency, took this strategy to heart and worked closely with the Hendy team to create a new office that employees would look forward to returning to each day. Due to the nature of the company’s services, team members are on the phone for most of their workdays. This meant that the office needed to be worth the commute by offering the same level of comfort and flexibility that people have grown accustomed to while working from home. Hendy envisioned the new space as a home away from home for employees that features rich, comforting materials, including natural leather, wood, and metal tile in a compact, yet mighty space. During their breaks, employees can relax near a fireplace or even enjoy a coffee at the espresso machine. At the end of a busy workday, employees will often gather at the wine bar. We know that sometimes the best ideas are formed in these more casual and relaxed settings, so it was important to provide employees with plenty of opportunities to meet, socialize and collaborate.
The Fuscoe Engineering Example
Many of our clients are continuing to see the value that comes from investing in a workplace that promotes their company’s culture and drives the firm forward. Another example includes our recent project for Fuscoe Engineering, an award-winning civil engineering firm that asked us to envision a new headquarters that fosters “full circle” thinking by encouraging collaboration across all teams. Fuscoe had recently adopted the Employee Stock Ownership (ESOP) model and wanted their employee-owners to have a brand-new physical space that would not only be an exciting new step in the life of the firm, but one that would promote and reinforce the company’s values to attract and retain top industry talent. Hendy delivered a workplace that reinforces the firm’s strong brand identity and is also designed to be highly collaborative and engaging. Promoting employee health and wellness, the new space also boasts an abundance of natural light, fresh air, and organic elements. This, coupled with state-of-the-art technology and integrated communication tools, makes it a virtual hub of productivity.
The Bottom Line Is This
In this day and age, people are no longer motivated by the mere thought of returning to a physical space to perform their daily work routine. Far beyond contributing to the bottom line, they are looking for opportunities to participate in a dynamic, engaging, and purpose-driven environment. We’ve seen time and time again that by prioritizing community, flexibility, growth, technology, and culture, organizations can create workspaces that more than justify the commute by providing a fulfilling and enriching experience for every employee, ultimately paving the way for a future of work that is not only productive but also deeply meaningful.