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InsightsIn5: What next for the world of workplace?

Jackie Cupper

Consultant, Global IFM Strategy

4xi Global Consulting & Solutions

The only constant in the world is change has never been so true as it is today mid-global pandemic and as we peer for the light of the tunnel at the other side. Business leaders across the world are trying to make sense of what the future may hold for their businesses, their services, products, and for their workplace of the future.

According to KPMG, 7 out of 10 CEO’s of Fortune 100 Companies believe that corporate real estate footprints will shrink. Only one 1 out of 5 CFO’s believe that business will return to normal post-pandemic according to PwC, and research by Philippa Lally of the University College London revealed it takes 66 days for us to form new habits and behaviors. Each of these three, of many reference points goes to clearly indicating that COVID-19 might be the biggest catalyst and accelerator of change in our lifetimes.

“But what does that mean for the world of work and future of work experience?”

Businesses have discovered that a dispersed workforce model can work. Employees have learned how to adapt to a new working routine, some with positives but negatives too. Here are just a sample of the many observations for Employers and Employees:

The Positives?

+ Employers
+ Operating costs have come down
+ Reduction in travel and expenses
+ Future reduction in real estate needs
+ Employees
+ Win back time from the mindless commute
+ More time at home, with family
+ Get more done, optimizing time

The Negatives?

- Employers
- Reduced connectivity and collaboration
- Lesser sense of community
- Less oversight and control
- Employees
- Health, wellness, and wellbeing
- Loss of work social interaction
- Working more hours

The cost of hosting employees in space has come down, travel and expense budgets become virtually unused, and the prediction that real estate costs will come down. The prospect for some employees reducing a career long investment in time and money to the dreaded commute, more time at home, with family, and optimizing their work/lifetime allocation are appealing factors. But then around a significantly diminished opportunity to connect and collaborate, lesser sense of community, less oversight and control can have soft but deep consequences. Then for employees how corporate loneliness is on the rise, mental health and wellness issues creeping up, the loss of social interaction, and for many, reporting that they are working longer hours.

During the recent WORKTECH 20 North America virtual conference, UBER, LinkedIn, and Facebook were on a panel and talked about their methodology of designing the work experience of the future:

“Don’t try and retool the past, but really understand how people work, work better, more efficiently, how, with what, where and when.”

It is with these learnings that they are redesigning their work experiences from a blank canvass, ripping up the rule book of the past and rewriting the script for the future.

What Employees Really Think

That said, they do say that “the key to the future is what lies in the past” and to that end here are just 10 questions to ask of your business and your employees:

  • What services/amenities/benefits were most valued by the employees, and why? (and the least valued?)

    • What service/amenities/benefits were most important to the employees, and why? (and the least important?)

    • What service/amenities/benefits drove the most benefit to the business, and why? (and the least benefit?)

    • What were the top 5 reasons why employees wanted to work for your business? (and the top 5 reasons for losing employees?)

    • What did you like the most about working from home? (and what did you like the least?)

    • What did you miss the most from your place of work? (what did you miss the least?

    • How many days a week would you like to work at home vs. office into the future? (what technologies do you need to optimize your working performance?)

    • What services/amenities would attract you to the workplace in the future?

    • What are the things that make you feel most excited about your work experience?

Understanding what employees really think is a critical part of the process, and when in real time, a constant pulse check on what’s working, what’s not, and how the workforce evolves over time.

“At one time offering childcare to start-up tech companies was pointless but over time as the workforce needs change, evolve, and have families, then amenities like childcare raises its level of importance and value.”

Similar to what employees really think, then how employees feel, perform, their health and wellbeing is also critical and how through continuous monitoring can help adjust the working environment, resources, and tools to maintain employee efficiency, productivity but also an important factor, employee happiness.

Designing a Space vs. Building an Experience?

A beautifully designed space where people come and evolve into over time is often how we have designed and built structures in the past but to what extent can you design an experience around the people and not necessarily the physical brinks and mortar?

What is clear is that the future has changed for certain, and that where we call workplaces is now way beyond the built environment and with more employee choice like never before and to more than every before. Home, the local coffee shop, hotel, co-working space, local/regional hub or back to the office?

What are the tools that will make the workforce more effective, from anywhere? What are the things that will really impact health, wellness, and wellbeing? What about engagement, loyalty, contentment, and happiness?

“How can we take the essence of all that our people desire, need, and help them thrive, curating a set of experiences as opposed to simply building a physical structure?”

We have this opportunity among us to build beyond the normal parameters and venture into exploring what’s possible, and it in this way that we can build a work experience framework that with the right measurements of success, flexibility for evolution, that will outlive the physical structures of today and to the virtual spaces of the future.

Data is King

Although what people want is important, the danger is that the loudest opinions can sway the data, and that gathering a representative sample can in some organizations be a huge task. Then, beware that data sets such as surveys are only a moment in time. An ongoing strategy to data and monitoring will provide you with the directional signs for you to way find through the evolution of your employee experience.

True North

As with any imperative organizational, transformational project, buy in and commitment from key stakeholders and leadership is critical to ensure the best outcomes for your organization. Carefully mapping out the desired outcomes, the resources required, the long-term commitment the road map and measures of success is the foundation to effect change.

An upfront investment in establishing your True North is the basis in which you can align all these stakeholders. Think about this as an expedition. What is the mission, desired outcomes, resources, talent needed to complete your goal?

  • What is the purpose and destination of the journey or expedition?

  • Who from the C-suite is sponsoring, supporting the expedition?

  • Do you have sufficient funding to complete the mission?

  • What expertise do you need on the crew to achieve your aims?

  • What internal, external talent do you need for the journey?

  • What are the key milestones along the way?

  • How do you organize the expedition, the crew?

  • How do you ensure there are open and free channels of visible communication?

  • What are the measures of success along the way and beyond the finish line?

Setting out the Expedition Charter is the first step on your journey to transforming the work experience. As they old saying goes, its all in the planning and preparation.

Good luck on your journey, have fun, but most importantly focus on the outcomes: Transforming the Work Experience for GOOD, and for the BETTER!

For further information or perspectives, please feel free to reach out:


4xi Global Workplace Consulting & Solutions provides a range of services to support Corporations, Service Providers, Innovators, and Accelerators to navigate the world of work. Inspiring the future of work, together.

4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.

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