Workplace experience, like customer experience, can positively impact an organization’s bottom line. After all, happy employees are more likely to be productive, remain loyal, and promote an organization’s mission and vision than those who feel unappreciated and undervalued.
When a company listens to its employees, it can enhance the workplace experience and make the organization a more attractive place to work. This has become even more important in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as employees return to the office but continue to demand remote working opportunities.
Organizations now have to consider how to create and maintain a positive workplace experience in a hybrid environment. Thankfully, today’s technology can assist them in this endeavor.
What is the Workplace Experience?
Workplace experience encompasses all of the interactions employees have with their workplace: from applying and onboarding to interacting with technology and fulfilling the company’s mission and vision. It is an “ever-evolving ecosystem made up of everything that impacts employees’ ability to do their best work … a positive workplace experience means every employee can step into their workplace and feel like it was made just for them.”
Due to the competitiveness of today’s job market and the growth of work-from-home arrangements, employers are searching for ways to attract and retain first-rate workers – and workplace experience has become a key differentiating factor.
Focusing on a Hybrid Model
One thing the pandemic has revealed is that physical workspace has little impact on worker productivity. The abrupt closure of many offices in March 2020 ushered in a new era of remote work for millions of employees, who rose to the challenge and actually increased productivity while working from home.
Since employees have proven to be just as productive at home as in the office, many want to retain some remote work and have the flexibility of hybrid in-office/remote work even after the pandemic recedes and offices reopen.
A hybrid workplace model “combines both remote workspaces and on-site workspaces. It applies to employees who work from home and in the office.” A hybrid model typically features office spaces with flexible “hot desks,” open areas, and collaborative zones; cloud-based technology; and efficient communication tools.
Technology Supporting a Positive Workplace Experience
To meet the new demands of employees who prefer a hybrid work model and remain focused on health and safety in a post-COVID world, businesses are turning to technological innovations. These technologies are helping employers improve both in-office and at-home operations while continuing to drive inclusivity, promote productivity, and encourage interaction among employees – regardless of their location.
Here’s a glimpse into a few technologies driving these trends.
In a hybrid office setting, occupancy becomes less predictable and tends to vary from week to week. At the same time, employees want to feel safe in the office; thus, social distancing remains a priority as the pandemic recedes. Under these circumstances, the ability to monitor and control occupancy levels within a location is important, so is collecting and analyzing occupancy data.
Ombori has developed an occupancy control solution that allows businesses to monitor how many people enter and exit a building and analyze how floor space is utilized. This information can be used to ensure compliance with safety regulations, adjust staffing levels, and optimize square footage.
These tools provide valuable data that can reveal which collaboration spaces are most popular, whether the choice of working from home or the office is affected by seasonal changes, and whether hybrid work trends vary across multiple locations. Such information can help businesses make crucial real estate decisions and ensure a positive workplace experience for employees.
Beyond ensuring physical safety and optimizing the configuration of space, another concern for many hybrid offices is how to create an employee-centric environment. Offices that plan on using “hot desks,” where multiple workers use a single workstation during different time periods, need a way for employees to reserve those workspaces. Implementing an appointment booking system can help staff easily find and reserve a workstation or meeting room.
Traditionally, employees have been frustrated by room scheduling, which is often inflexible and difficult to manage. However, appointment booking software makes the reservation process simple, thereby increasing employee satisfaction and enhancing workplace experience.
Our solution allows employees to book spaces via a QR code or an online booking site. Users conveniently receive notifications online and can cancel or reschedule their booking as necessary. If no one checks into the space within a specific timeframe, it can be released for someone else to book online.
As offices start to reopen following the pandemic, employers need to introduce new policies and procedures. They will need to focus on communicating news consistently to staff regardless of where they choose to work. Tools that allow businesses to create dynamic digital signage playlists can ensure the same information is shared with all employees across all locations and environments.
In an office setting, digital signage is often used for wayfinding, but it can easily be adapted as a modern culture and communication hub for employees. Screens positioned strategically throughout the office are perfect for displaying digital announcements, dashboards, social media posts, and news feeds. The same screens can be shared online with remote workers. Digital signage solutions provided by companies like Ombori can improve both organizational communication and the workplace experience.
Solutions such as Ombori Omni Visit help bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds, a concept vital in a hybrid workplace model. Although designed for customers, these tools can be adapted for employees as well. The use of virtual queueing can ensure that all staff has the same access to workplace resources and personnel regardless of whether they are in the office or working off-site.
Omni Visit allows them to join a virtual queue to troubleshoot issues with an IT professional or schedule an appointment with their manager or other office personnel. Because they don’t have to stand in line or be placed on hold, they can continue working on other tasks until it is their turn.
Aside from convenience, this technology also ensures greater fairness among staff and improves the overall workplace experience. All employees deserve equal access to organizational leadership. Unlike office-based workers who can drop by their manager’s office anytime to discuss work, remote staff often feel the communication gap more acutely. Virtual queueing helps to eliminate this inequity.
Technology helps employees in the work-from-home setting in other ways as well. Workers can use laptops in conjunction with virtual private networks (VPNs) to securely connect to cloud services and gain access to company files. Videoconferencing tools enable employees to stay connected and maintain workflow continuity, and collaboration software supports the communication needs of teams that are physically apart.
While the ability to work from home has improved the workplace experience for employees, it has also benefited businesses. Among the spoils enjoyed by employers are reduced overhead, greater access to top-notch talent, increased productivity, and streamlined processes – all of which translates into more revenue.
Why It’s Important to Focus on Workplace Experience
The way people work and where they work is changing, and there is no “one size fits all” solution to today’s workplace challenges. However, businesses that adopt a hybrid model have a greater chance of improving workplace experience than those who don’t – and the happier employees are, the more likely they are to stay with the company, be productive, and promote their organization.
Rui is COO of Ombori Grid. Before joining Ombori in 2017, he worked in Beijing, Tokyo, Silicon Valley and Zagreb before ending up in Stockholm. He previously spent nine years in R&D at Ericsson as Operative Product Owner, and is a highly skilled leader in IT and communications with a successful track record of working closely with both stakeholders and management.