After working from home and collaborating at a distance, the importance of the workplace and all that it offers has become clear: An office is more than just a place to work and while some people have adapted to working from home (WFH), many people miss the office, perhaps even surprising themselves.
The workplace drives innovation and growth and fosters culture and sense of community while providing the tools and resources people need to be truly productive. There are countless benefits to having a physical place that brings an organisation’s people together. Here are just 6 reasons why the workplace matters – and will continue to matter.
Personal and corporate growth
The post-COVID-19 economy has ushered in a season of survival mode for companies. But the pivot back to growth mode for people and businesses will be here soon. Growth depends on innovation, and that’s driven by people coming together to collaborate, think and solve.
At the same time, as leaders shift and change strategies in response to the pandemic shock, in-person strategy sessions provide places to establish new priorities, rally around a vision and set the stage for growth. And dare we say it: Make sure we are better prepared for another even that disrupts business continuity.
Further digital transformation
If companies weren’t thinking about digital transformation before COVID-19, they certainly are now. Organisations have been forced to compete and manage a range of disruptions, internal and external, domestic and global. Organisations are launching new business models and equipping teams to be ready for anything; digital transpiration will evolve for years.
In times of stress or crisis, there’s no substitute for coming together to quickly address, assess and solve problems. Integrated technology and high-performance products provide additive qualities without the clunky features of afterthought spaces with hastily added, non-optimised technology.
Attract and retain talent
The workplace is a key tool to help organisations attract, retain and engage talent. Not only is space an expression of the company, it sends important cultural signals about what new talent can expect in your organisation.
Is there choice and control? Are there social spaces to meet with teammates? While technology can help with some elements, like onboarding, it’s hard to build community and nurture the kinds of relationships needed to engage talent and strengthen teams over Zoom.
Research shows that successful innovation is typically ‘place-based’ and incorporates a variety of business functions, issues and actions from adjacent or connected internal organisations. Workplace design fosters these connections and promotes innovative activities like building models, sharing content, testing prototypes, iterating in real-time, collecting annotations and ideas and building on the collective efforts of the team. Two-dimensional technology simply cannot move the needle as three-dimensional interactions can.
Collaboration and connection
Collaboration is a key, place-based business behaviour with demonstrable links to growth and innovation. Laddering on each other’s ideas, using sticky notes to brainstorm and bringing others along through discussion and whiteboarding helps evolve, distil and solidify new concepts. Body language and other unspoken behaviours provide social cues that can be easily missed when not in person. When every meeting starts and ends on time, there is no room for the magic of serendipity.
While working from home provides a certain measure of privacy, it can also lead to isolation, loneliness and depression. Without the support teams and group work provide, people are left feeling disconnected and disengaged. At the same time, people who don’t interact with others or participate in the workplace risk becoming irrelevant, undervalued or overlooked. These factors don’t just impact individuals’ career paths, they impact a company’s ability to fill the talent pipeline. Having a place to create meaningful connections is more important than ever.
If 2020 has taught us anything it must be that resilience is more important than ever. Having a strong cultural foundation and spaces outfitted to promote in-person decision making is key to an organisation’s ability to shift gears and resources to support unexpected disruptions. Strong, decisive leadership and healthy teams are the ‘backbone’ to an innovative, flexible and resilient workplace that can bend but not break.
It’s true communication can take place over technology, but we believe something is lost in a constant two-dimensional world. Online platforms, texting and an array of apps designed to support teams is necessary infrastructure, but there are dangers, too.
Constant screen or phone use can lead to fatigue, zoning out and even reduced productivity. Staying in touch is vital for forward momentum, and there’s no real substitute for face-to-face communication.