Transforming the Destination Workplace

The post pandemic workplace is evolving to look very different. Companies are switching to hybrid. They’re reworking offices to factor in a greater need for collaboration, face to face connection, and flexibility. People can work anywhere. Many are unlikely to go back to commuting five days a week. The office has lost its footing as the epicentre of work.

The rise of the destination workplace

From Zoom to Slack to Google Docs, technology has freed people from the nine to five. People in the knowledge economy can work as well on a beach in Bali as they can in an office. But there’s a missing link: face to face time. Coaching and mentoring, creative innovation, team bonding, and company culture are all developed through in-person interactions. To draw a dispersed workforce in, we need to reimagine the office to become a destination that people want to spend time in.

The purpose of the so-called destination workplace is to create a first-class employee experience and bring office life closer to personal life. It’s firmly people focused. It has to be if it’s going to compete with a beach in Bali. Progressive companies such as Google have long recognised the importance of the destination workplace. Other big hitters, such as Deliveroo, have followed suit. Post pandemic workplace culture is accelerating this transition. Employee focused working environments are set to become the norm, not the exception.

In the same way that bricks and mortar stores have responded to the e-commerce boom by amping up the in-store experience, the destination workplace is all about employee experience. The days of the soulless office factory floor are numbered. The most successful modern workplaces will be those that can create a community for employees to engage with. That can mean biophilic office design, nutritious snacks available on site, relaxing socialization space, modern digital infrastructure, and leisure amenities such as access to a gym or lunchtime yoga classes.

  • A well-crafted destination workplace design should:
  • Make work feel like it’s not work
  • Support work, rest, and play
  • Aim to delight employees
  • Create a sense of community
  • Provide a variety of workspaces suited to different work styles
  • Use technology to create a seamless in-office experience, such as desk booking software and smart meetings

Why is a people-first destination workplace so important?

Your people are your biggest assets. From product development to customer service, it’s their effort, experience, and know-how that create value for customers. Take away the people, and a company is an empty building full of technology sat on standby. It’s important to look after them. The working environment you provide will shape your brand.

Part of the reason why your followers support you, it helps attract and retain both customers and employees.
Imagine company A, known for being a dynamic, supportive and energizing place to work and company B, known for the opposite. Regardless of product, which would you rather buy from, or work for? An environment that employees love helps drive loyalty, commitment, and creativity in your company. It’s people focused, and people, not the office, are the future of work.

The role of the future workplace

Pre pandemic, many people imagined that the future of work would be purely digital. We’d all be working in cyberspace, office space rendered entirely redundant. The importance of face-to-face human connection is one of many lessons the pandemic has taught us. Plunged into a digital-only 12 months’ worth of shutdowns, we emerged craving human contact.

The subsequent move to hybrid has turned the future workplace on its head. No longer the default working environment, the role of the office is becoming more specialist. It’s not the factory that workers trudge to every day anymore. Now, it needs to define the company culture and be the hub of the workplace community, drawing people in to connect, collaborate, and create.

Hybrid Workplace Persona #3: The Culturalist

In our hybrid workplace persona blog series, we’re taking a look at the personas you’re most likely to encounter in your hybrid working office. The four hybrid working employee personas – Soloists, Adapters, Culturalists and Traditionalists – will each approach hybrid differently. Understanding these differences will help you navigate a smooth transition from a traditional, nine-to-five office culture to a hybrid one.

Change can be unsettling for anybody. Insight into the people you’re catering for will inform the tools, systems and culture you need to put in place to keep staff happy and engaged.

In this edition, we’re looking at the Culturalist.

The Culturalist: The networking persona

The Culturalist is the social butterfly, the networking persona. This hybrid working persona loves to spend time with other people and they thrive as part of an office community. The polar opposite to the Soloist; working remotely all week in isolation is definitely not for them. Their preferred habitat is the informal meeting area or collaboration space, or you might also spot them chatting at the water cooler or office social areas throughout the day.

But don’t mistake their social nature for slacking off. Often seen as extroverts, Culturalists are energized by socializing and having people around them. They can be great problem solvers and networkers. They’re heavily invested in the workplace community and are often a driving force behind it.

They’ll be the ones organizing office nights out, baking competitions, and Secret Santa. They’ll also be the ones who are great at collaboration and working across departments, joining the dots and making things happen. Coming into the office should be an enjoyable experience for them. While the flexibility to work remotely will still be important, your Culturalists are likely to come in more frequently. 

Creating a destination workplace

Culturalists will have missed connecting with others and getting out and about more than most during the pandemic. To help them transition to hybrid you’ll need to make them feel engaged and feed their social side for the best workplace experience.

The opportunity to collaborate is important to them so make sure there’s space designed for teamwork

  • Collaboration hubs with interactive whiteboards, video conferencing or hybrid meeting setup to make meetings more inclusive 
  • Open areas with comfy chairs and refreshments for chance encounters, impromptu brainstorming sessions and small social gatherings 
  • Silent zones for undisturbed, focused work for those coming to the office to run away from bad internet connection, or to take care of their mental wellbeing by enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. 
  • Adding a splash of color and plant life can help people feel relaxed and make a break from the desk, encouraging communication and creativity. 

Get our guide on ‘How to make collaboration work in the hybrid workplace’ to discover more ways to enhance workplace experience for your Culturalists.

Create a ‘social’ room and desk booking experience

When they come into the office, your Culturalists will want to be sure they can sit near colleagues and have access to spaces that enable them to collaborate.

In many organizations, the days of one-desk-per-employee are gone. Desk scheduling software such as Kadence’s Wx offers short- or long-term bookings with interactive floor plans that show which workspaces are booked, by whom, and at what time, this can help guarantee they’ll get to sit with colleagues. The same goes for room bookingpeople can decide exactly when to come to the office to maximize opportunities for chance encounters and collaboration.

Know where colleagues are for networking and socializing

With a dispersed workforce, it’s easy to lose track of where colleagues are working on any given day. The last thing a Culturalist wants is to make the trip into the office, only to find the rest of their team are all working remotely that day.

Putting in place a system that allows everybody to share they will be workingtheir whereabouts during the week will enable employees to sync their own schedules with colleagues’ schedules. Culturalists will value being able to plan their week around the activity of their team.

Biophilic office design

Biophilic office design brings nature into the workplace. It’s based on the idea that humans are intrinsically bound to nature and the natural environment. Workspaces more in tune with nature can make us more content and relaxed.

When your Culturalists come into the office, they’re looking for an uplifting and positive workplace experience. Office design has a key role to play in creating this for them.

Design your office space with biophilic principles in mind:

  • Use natural materials, such as wood or stone
  • Ensure access to natural light and views of green spaces, if possible.
  • Create outside areas for people to socialize and relax
  • Add indoor plants to your décor
  • Embrace a color scheme that has echoes in nature

Optimize your workplace experience

Your Culturalists need employee engagement. They will look forward to the different aspects of office life. Being stuck at home working at the kitchen table will have been particularly difficult for them. They’ll have missed getting out of the house, working face to face with others, and socializing.

They are also keen on hybrid working. It gives them flexibility and work-life balance, but they can still enjoy coming into the office. Just make sure that you take steps to ensure their office experience is a collaborative and productive one.

Give them a simple and intuitive way to book desk and meeting space, the opportunity to sync their schedules with colleagues, thoughtfully designed collaboration and socialization spaces, and a biophilic-inspired workspace design.