The central idea behind the office has been around in some form or another for millennia as a place where people come together to develop ideas, do deals and create things that have an impact. But 2020 has seen our expectations and requirements of the office being challenged dramatically.
If you are rethinking your approach to your workplace design and strategy, you should start by asking if your current way of working is supporting your people to do their best work and if it supports your employees’ needs allowing them to bring their best selves to work, explains Georgie Chennells, workplace consultant and the founder of Space Sense in this podcast.
Mobile technology enables people to work from different locations and the idea of flexible working has been on the rise for some time, but 2020 saw this idea become mainstream due to rapid and the dramatic shifts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has also highlighted different aspects of the workplace design conversation specifically around health and safety and mental wellbeing.
The importance of cleanliness, good office ventilation systems and creating safe and socially distant workspaces have come to the fore. The focus on health and safety has also highlighted the need for good communication around these workplace elements to assure employees that they are coming into a safe workspace and that their leaders have prioritised their safety.
The effects of isolation, economic difficulties and new pressures linked to flexible working and working from home, have taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of employees. This in turn highlights the importance of creating workplaces spaces that people want to engage with and which promotes both productivity and mental wellbeing safely.
For business leaders who are rethinking their workplace approach, Georgie recommends the following:
- Start by reflecting on your own business needs and ambitions and ask whether your current way of working and how you have set-up your workplace is working for your business and will ensure your success.
- Engage with your employees to understand what is working for them and what do you need to adjust to enable them to do their best work. How can you create a workplace experience that is responsive to their needs?
- Consider facilities are used all the time in your business and which you only use occasionally,
- Finally, be open to experimenting and testing concepts as you make adjustments to your approach.
Workplace strategy and change consultant
Georgie is the founder of Space Sense Workplace Consultancy. She helps businesses set up their spaces to enable high performing teams and efficient operations.
She does this by helping them understand and work with the dynamics of their workplace, involving people, space and ambition.