The United States is still in the midst of a deadly pandemic. It’s been one year since COVID-19 forced businesses around the country to shut down and switch to remote work. Today, many employees continue to work from home as infection rates rise and fall.
Hope is on the horizon, thankfully. On March 2nd, U.S. President Joe Biden announced the country will have enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May, which puts herd immunity within our grasp. Scientists estimate that at our current vaccination rates, the United States could reach herd immunity by the end of the year. We’re currently administering approximately 2 million vaccine doses per day and Biden’s recent announcement could speed things up even further.
Employers haven’t waited for the vaccine or herd immunity to make changes to the way their employees work. Many have already transitioned their workforces back to an in-person environment while others have vowed to remain remote for the foreseeable future. Moving forward, as vaccines make returning to the office safer, employers will have to find a solution that works for them.
Now more than ever, companies need to create an intentional workplace tailored to meet the unique needs of their business and their employees.
Prioritizing the Human Experience
An intentional workplace centers on the human experience. It recognizes that each employee works differently and adapts to accommodate their individual needs. A Salesforce report found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 5.3 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Crafting an intentional workplace is about letting go of old philosophies. In an intentional workplace, it’s no longer only about whether an employee is a good fit for your company, but how you can adjust your environment to attract and nurture top talent.
Even before the pandemic added additional stressors to our lives, a survey from CareerBuilder found that 61 percent of employees feel burned out. And employee burnout can drain companies. The American Psychological Association estimates that each year, 550 million work days are lost due to stress on the job. By creating an intentional workplace that prioritizes human dynamics, employers can avoid burnout and its negative economic consequences.
Solving for Variables
Today’s companies face a number of workplace variables. The pandemic exposed employees around the country to a new way of working, and now some prefer remote work, while others have found they operate better in office settings. An intentional workplace can meet a variety of needs. For those employees who prefer to work in the office, employers could make office space available to them on a daily basis. Those employees who prefer working remotely could be given the tools and technology to both remain connected to their colleagues and grow professionally. To accommodate employees who prefer a mix of in-person and off-site working, employers will need to consider workplace layout, scheduling, and safety.
Additionally, employers will have to be intentional about creating a workplace that accommodates both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. The scope of authority is unknown, but it will likely mean adhering to government mandated safety requirements and implementing measures to protect the health of employees. An intentional workplace ensures all stakeholders are considered.
Designing your Space
The pandemic has given companies the chance to hit the reset button and carefully consider how they can best use their offices and other locations.
Those companies who give their employees the freedom to continue working remotely may never return to pre-COVID-19 occupancy rates. Companies can adapt to their new normal by intentionally designing their space to meet their new needs. For some companies this might mean downsizing, relocating, decentralizing, or utilizing coworking space. Other companies may find ways to repurpose their space.
Though some companies will adopt a decentralized workplace, a vast majority will be centralized and have to design their space to meet the needs of both in-office and remote staff. They will need to build a workplace that employees are eager to be in to collaborate, socialize, create, and grow the culture. Meeting spaces will not only need physical amenities but also the technology necessary to ensure those working offsite remain connected. An intentional workplace prioritizes the needs of both groups equally.
For the first time ever, employees have a voice and a vote in how and where they choose to work and employers must adapt, support, and respond to individual needs. In order to stay competitive, attract and retain talent, employers must create an intentional workplace for employees to be engaged, incentivized, and cultivate a growth mindset.
Interested in crafting an intentional workplace? We’ll help you design the perfect space for your company, contact us.