September 16, 2020
Suck it up. The role of property in supporting organisational performance has changed forever. The obsession with bricks and mortar has to shift to the employee-as-consumer experience. If we understand that user experience, then organisations can make the right decisions. The problem is, experience is now scattered across millions of homes worldwide.
Boardrooms are empty, but boards are still meeting and workplace is top of their agenda. This is an unbelievable opportunity to prove the value proposition of the workplace. But you can’t walk into a boardroom without data; you have to know how the organisation is performing now, how it was performing before, and how it might perform in the future with a new approach.
The world’s leading organisations are using this hiatus period to directly inform and evaluate the future workplace landscape. Collecting and aggregating data has never been so important. Highly empathetic organisations – those that place the employees at the heart of the experience they seek to curate – make it their business to understand what their people think, need and want because they understand the value of experience.
But the workplace machine, which can so easily strengthen or strangle experience, has a new competitor. And it’s working hard to offer employees an alternative to what they previously and unequivocally considered a central place of work. Offices and homes are currently battling head to head.
Activities critical to collective work processes, such as problem solving and idea sharing, are best supported in the office, whereas activities that require acoustic privacy are, frankly, better catered for at home
Read the tabloid headlines and you’ll be led to believe that the home is working just as well as, if not better than, the average corporate office. The data suggests that for many employees this is not the case. Since early March, Leesman has been benchmarking the remote working experience against the parallel office experience to conduct a gap analysis of where the office works best and where the home works best for the 100,000+ employees that we have surveyed. Activities critical to collective work processes, such as problem solving and idea sharing, are best supported in the office, whereas activities that require acoustic privacy are, frankly, better catered for at home.
Averages mask highs and lows. Workplace strategy must consider not only those in the immediate line of vision but also those struggling on the periphery. One in three employees do not have a dedicated space that they can use at home. These people are sofa-surfing, perched on the edge of a bed or teetering on the side of a kitchen table, and they report significantly lower satisfaction scores on every aspect of their experience.
Then there are the factors almost impossible to measure. Watercooler moments are a bit passé, but the fact remains that you can’t replicate chance encounters on a Zoom call. That, along with other factors, negatively impacts knowledge transfer, social interaction and creative collaboration.
There has never before been such a need to understand how employees are experiencing the environments in which they work. The world might feel like a different place now, but the one thing that has not changed is the role an employee plays in an organisation.
Tim Oldman is the founder and CEO of Leesman which helps organisations understand and measure how well workplaces support the employees who use them.