You can’t swing a cat at the moment without connecting with someone who’s thinking about, worrying about or indeed opining about the future of where and how we work! We haven’t seen the end of workplaces quite yet, and thank goodness for that. As an aside, if your work involves having to be in a particular place like a hospital, a production environment, or a lab, among other examples, you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.
But we have seen a remarkable shift in thinking, forced on us by the pandemic. Turns out you can be a customer service advisor and not sit in serried ranks of desks on a business park somewhere. You can be a lawyer, a recruiter, an HR manager, you name it, and do that work dispersed from your colleagues, clients, suppliers, even your boss. You can bring in new team members and win new clients without ever meeting them in person.
We’ve all participated in a huge experiment for 12 months, which is a golden opportunity for insight and innovation. Productivity is not in question. But wellbeing certainly is.
No one-size-fits-all approach can work when it comes to human beings
At BetterSpace, we fundamentally believe that people are all individuals – our product is based on this and we provide a personalised wellbeing experience that works for employees in any role or sector. One of our values is that we celebrate difference.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that workplace is also personal and is in fact also about wellbeing. 15 of us with 15 sets of needs. Some things in common, some not. Clearly one size will not fit all (when does it ever?!)
Following excellent feedback from the whole BetterSpace team, I’ve taken the lead on exploring our options, learning as much as I can from the many insightful people working on this – for instance, I used Bruce Daisley’s invaluable 10 stage guide to find some inspiration.
It’s only the start of the journey
The key take outs that we are working on? Here goes:
- This doesn’t have to have the sense of all or nothing that was a huge factor last year – so experiment, collect data, adjust based on insight, collect views from everyone involved;
- Don’t allow all the decisions about this to be taken by your most senior and well paid people. They will have needs, for sure, but they are unlikely to be the same needs as a less senior, well-paid colleague. Sure, your CEO may be working out of their bedroom in a shared flat with no outside space, but it’s less likely!
- There were pros and cons to pre-pandemic work practices, and the same applies to the Covid era – make sure you’re learning from both;
- Give people choice and flexibility, but also responsibility;
- People’s needs change with time, so this is an opportunity to create a more personal, flexible approach that can endure through whatever the next few years bring – colleagues will need to move house, may take on caring responsibilities, all sorts of things can happen;
- Be intentional about what happens in the different ‘hybrid’ environments – what work is best done together in the same physical space, what can be done very effectively in a dispersed model and how do you maintain an equally high-quality experience for all your people.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
There are many more things to think about, well-captured in the links I’ve provided and I’m sure you’ve come across more so do share.
Our plan is to experiment with a ‘work from anywhere’ approach, with flexible workspaces available away from home; the opportunity to work from another country for periods; and intentional sessions where we come together to work and socialise. We’ll see how it goes, keep gathering the feedback and make adjustments as needed. I’ll be back no doubt to share what we’re learning.