Finding Balance – Part 2: The Workplace [+ Workplace Strategies Infographic]
In Part 1 of Finding Balance, we talked about how important it is to find a balance both at home and at work and gave some tips for helping people regain control of some of the work/life balance this year has made it so hard to achieve. People are your most important asset, so make sure they are healthy and happy, first. Now let’s turn our attention to Part 2, the Workplace.
Organizations are tasked with making sure they can safely support workers in the office with the flexibility their employees need. As we said in Part 1, Balance is the solution to COVID’s complete disruption of our world and the continued changes we will see in the future. Now is the time for the organization to balance the freedom, flexibility, and productivity of employees while maintaining safety, security, and optimization.
One thing we have learned this year as we catch glimpses of home “offices” over Zoom calls, is that people are individuals that all have different workstyles and needs. In order to support these unique individuals, you must view the workplace in the same way. It’s not about everyone needing their own desk, or not. It’s about offering as much flexibility as possible for what your unique individuals need at any given time.
Not One Workplace Strategy For All
For example, we’ve all read opines of the “experts” with headlines to drive attention:
- “Telework Doesn’t Work for Everyone!”; “Telework is for Everyone!”
- “Office Space is Dead!”; “Physical Distancing Means More Office Space!”
- “WFH is Unproductive for Some People; Everyone Must Return to the Office!”
- “Open Offices Are Noisy, Everyone Return to Enclosed Offices!”; “Enclosed Offices Destroy Collaboration, Everyone Return to Open Plan!”
Don’t believe any of these absolutes. No workplace infrastructure or strategy works for Everyone, Everywhere, Every time – NONE. We need to approach our workforce and workplace challenges with balanced solutions.
Balance derived from expanding our options beyond the “Tyranny of Two Choices.” It doesn’t always have to be “one or the other”, “this or that”? Do you want Chocolate or Vanilla? Quite honestly, I’d like a Chocolate/Vanilla swirl one day and Strawberry the next! It’s the way we are. Call us crazy!
And balance derived from thoughtful understanding of people as individuals, not as collections. We do individual heads-down and team tasks, we vary tasks over time, we tire of the same place all the time (any one place), we need quiet and buzz, we need to sit and we need to stand, we need face-to-face and we need remote connectivity, we need help and we need to be left alone, we need to travel and we need to be home…We need WFH and WFO and Work from Anywhere.
Balance means more choices, and bristles under overly prescriptive solutions that dictate when, where, and how to work and destroy employee engagement.
The value chain is simple: Choice and flexibility improve engagement, engagement creates productivity, productivity drives revenue.
Choice, Engagement, Productivity, Revenue.
With all that said, how does a company create such a balance?
The first step is to understand who your employees really are, and how they work.
Ask them! Survey them, find out what they need to be productive, where they like to work. And measure – Use presence and utilization data to cross-check what they say with how they are actually working.
Then you can start to look at all the different workplace seating strategies and select which ones can be combined and utilized to create the perfect balance for your unique workforce.
Workplace Strategies Defined
Assigned Seating – Traditional seat assignments with a 1 to 1 worker to desk ratio; could also be assigned seating in shifts/staggered schedule.
Confirmed Assigned Seating – Planned attendance is confirmed by the employee for the upcoming week/day, making it easy to control occupancy levels by capping the number of employees able to go to the office once the pre-set capacity has confirmed.
Free Address – A portion or all workspaces open for employees to sit wherever they want, with or without a reservation.
Reverse Hoteling – Release a seat assignment or long-term reservation when not planning to be in the office, making it available for use by someone else.
Hoteling – Selecting and reserving a space to work ahead of time, whether for a day or for long term.
Hot Desking – Ability to sit somewhere ad hoc, but with a check-in/presence verification to know by whom and when the space was occupied.
Neighborhood/Ratio Seating – Enables people from single or multiple departments to select their own seat in a pre-defined area. For example, enables a pool of 50 people to sit in a flexible area of 25 seats.
Network of Space – Leveraging external space sources such as coworking, building amenity space for overflow, or to offer decentralized working locations.
Using Workplace Strategies to Find a Balance
Traditional Assigned Seating vs. Free Address Seating
The traditional assigned seating has seen better days. It’s still the tactic of most businesses but the cons are starting to outweigh the pros, especially since COVID-19. Companies sticking with traditional assigned seating are losing out on a lot of money. Each workspace costs an average of $15,000 a year and when workspaces are only utilized an average of 30-40% a day (pre-Covid, imagine what it is now!), you are watching your money go to waste.
Now the opposite of traditional assigned seating is Free Address. Companies will make some or all their workspaces open for employees to use when they need, no assigned seats. Free Address encompasses the other strategies and is the key to supporting flexibility. However, it’s how businesses manage free address that is critical to its success. If companies switch to free address without considering how to manage access to the workspaces, it will be short-lived. And we don’t want that for you.
We aren’t saying seat assignments are not the right choice, we are saying it should be one of the choices, along with some combination of the other free address strategies. So let’s dive into those to see how they can support your employees’ workstyles in a safe environment to provide the ultimate balanced workplace.
Free Address + Seat Assignments…
Reverse Hoteling combines both hoteling and assigned seating to give you a semi better plan than traditional assigned seating. Let’s say you are in the office 90% of the time but travel 10% of the time. You still have your dedicated seat assignment, but rather than leaving it empty on days you are gone, you can release the desk for more mobile coworkers without assigned seats to use. But unless you know enough of your assigned workers will be out ahead of time, you will likely need to include additional free address/hoteling spaces for use.
+ Hoteling Program
So, that brings us to hoteling and hot desking. With an office hoteling program, employees can find the desk or collaboration space they need, when they need it. Hoteling offers employees the freedom and flexibility to work where they want and when, but the control to claim or reserve that space in advance. While hot desking is a little more in-the-moment, it still encourages a check-in to eliminate the guessing game for space availability. When managed correctly, employees can find a place to work whenever they need, without worry.
+ Neighborhood/Ratio Seating
With Neighborhood/Ratio seating, you can offer employees choice and flexibility in a more controlled setting. By creating neighborhoods of departments and teams, employees can choose where they sit within a certain area but are still near the people they need to collaborate with most.
+ Network of Space
Finally, your Network of Space adds to the balance by giving employees the chance to work elsewhere, whether it’s at home, in landlord amenity space, or a coworking site. When one employee claims space outside of the office, it frees up the space inside the office for another employee to use. And with the right technology in place, you can track where your employees are working, even when they are outside your four walls.
= Flexible, Dynamic Workplace
Do you see how establishing a dynamic workplace with some combination of workplace strategies can create the balance for which your office is looking?
We’ve said it a couple of times now, so let’s say it again. Balance is the solution to COVID’s complete disruption of our workplace world, and the continued changes sure to follow. Now is the time to implement the technologies necessary to balance the freedom, flexibility, and productivity of expanded workplace choices with the control, management, and measurement so critical to maintaining safety, security, and optimization.
What’s your balance? Are you using any of these workplace strategies?
Comment below and let us know!