November 3, 2023
Miller Knoll has introduced a new framework that helps organisations uncover the purpose of their workplace. The approach addresses the human needs of employees to improve their wellbeing, fosters a sense of community and connection, and helps organisations navigate, prepare, and design for change. The firm sets out its thinking here.
The last few years have completely upended traditional notions of the workplace. With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, employees now expect flexibility in when and where they work. However, the toll of extended remote work has also revealed the irreplaceable value of in-person collaboration and connection. In fact, when asked why they would come into the office, a significant 74 percent of employees surveyed in the February 2023 Future Forum Pulse cited camaraderie, community, or connection as the number one reason.
As a result, organisations face a dilemma – how to meet employee demands for location flexibility while also nurturing the interpersonal ties that are essential for innovation, culture, and business success? The answer lies in reimagining what the workplace can offer employees by focusing on 3 key areas:
The events of the past few years spotlighted declining employee mental health, prompting employers to acknowledge their role in supporting wellbeing. However, truly effective strategies demand tangible action beyond recognition alone, addressing the physical, mental, and emotional facets of wellbeing. This includes providing ergonomic furnishings, a variety of work settings, and dedicated spaces for relaxation and rejuvenation. When employees are cared for, they are more engaged, productive, and loyal.
While remote work enables productivity, nothing can replace the “coffee machine catchups” that spark creativity, strengthen relationships, and build culture. Forward-thinking organisations now recognise that facilitating in- person and virtual connections is a primary purpose of the workplace.
Thoughtful design provides spaces conducive to “strong ties” within teams as well as “weak ties” across the organisation – the unexpected encounters and conversations that often generate fresh ideas.
“Today’s workplace needs to be ready to host rich, interpersonal connections between colleagues—both in-person and remote.
Change is constant, and organisations that embrace agility have a competitive advantage. Workplaces can empower employees to navigate change by giving them control over their environments. Easy reconfiguration of furnishings and spaces allows teams to modify their work points quickly as needs shift minute- to-minute or hour-to-hour. Larger-scale redesign can occur seamlessly overnight or over weekends to optimise spaces.
The disruptions of the past few years made employee flexibility a key- consideration. But truly effective workplaces move beyond basic accommodations to actively support wellbeing, connections, and change. When organisations invest in these areas, they demonstrate their commitment to helping employees thrive in the new world of work.
To find out more about the Miller Knoll Design with Impact approach, please visit https://www.millerknoll.com/design-with-impact