There’s no denying that work and workplaces have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees worldwide adapted to working from home, and many had to manage their families being home simultaneously. Businesses looked to existing and new, innovative technology solutions to keep work going and connect their employees wherever they were working.
It all seemed to work — until employers asked their employees to come back to the office.
After nearly two years of working from home, employee expectations have evolved, especially for knowledge workers who have found flexibility and productivity gains without the need for commutes and in-person meetings. They have new requirements on what it takes to make them feel safe, connected and taken care of in a workplace.
One of my colleagues shared an altered version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at a team meeting before the pandemic. Below psychological needs, someone had crudely drawn in “WiFi.” It was a funny meme — and great WiFi is essential — but it’s also a reminder of how our expectations of what’s important to people in their workplaces are often not aligned with what they actually need to be happy, healthy and productive.
As the co-founder of a company that provides workplace platforms, I can tell you that tech built for tech’s sake falls flat. It’s critical to remember that technology designed and built with human beings at the center are the solutions that make everyone’s lives easier.
Delivering what modern professionals need in a workplace today requires us as leaders to go back to a first-principles approach to the workplace. Skipping WiFi, as we all know how important that is, we can quickly connect those needs identified by Maslow to physical, social and emotional needs in the workplace.
Human beings need to be connected to their workplaces, whether in the office, remotely or in a hybrid model. Employees who are going into the office full time know who will be there. But in a hybrid environment, there are some issues to address.
One of the drawbacks of the hybrid model is not knowing when it’s the right time to go into the workplace. Companies can use technology to show employees who will be in the office and who will be working from home, allowing employees to choose when to go in and book a desk to get the most collaborative work accomplished.
When it comes to physical safety in the workplace, we’ve traditionally thought of security cameras, door locks and the proper handling of potentially dangerous materials. In the post-Covid-19 workplace, safety includes comprehensive screenings for Covid-19 symptoms and contact tracing in the event of a positive case. But it’s not just about Covid-19. Different types of technology can be used to help facilitate feedback and real-time maintenance requests, reinforce office protocols and put employees at ease when they know everyone is healthy.
It’s not only the workplace that your team needs to feel connected to; human beings are happier, healthier and more engaged when they feel a sense of belonging wherever they choose to work.
Technology can help this happen by connecting employees with office events, building amenities and retail marketplaces. For workers in hybrid or flex workplaces, you can create a more connected experience with everything from an online sign-in to accessing WiFi to ordering lunch. What matters here is making employees feel connected and taken care of no matter where in the world they are.
I’ve observed that some leaders think going back to the workplace is a bad idea due to its lacking qualities, including company culture. I like this kind of passion, but I think that there will always be a need for the office. However, it’s up to company leaders to create more collaborative, well-designed spaces that your employees want to work in.
We see businesses recognizing this as they redesign their spaces for hybrid work, re-architect their square footage and the increased use of coworking spaces. I believe that businesses and building operators that use technology to provide white-glove experiences to tenants are the ones that will win out there. These experiences can include access to the office and flex spaces, desk booking and community building through events, retail spaces, amenities and more.
Delivering an almost frictionless and fluid work experience is essential to businesses looking to retain employees and coworking spaces who want to stand apart from an increasingly crowded space.
More Than The Tenant Experience
The workplace of the future is about more than just the tenant experience. It’s about your tenants, your employees, their guests, delivery staff, security, building maintenance, retailers — everyone at the office building. Technology in the workplace can assist in bringing these people together, helping deliver an exceptional experience for your property management team, your tenants and most of all, your employees.