January 8, 2020
The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to rethink workplace design, company policies and new ways of keeping employees happier and more engaged.
With employment holding steady near all-time highs, the competition for talent is fierce and companies that don’t work hard to meet the needs of their employees risk losing them.
Inspired by the thousands of employee surveys we’ve done, here are seven workplace trends that we’d like to see more companies embrace in the coming years:
1. Hub & Spoke — Companies with large workforces in major cities often have several offices dotted around town in addition to a central headquarters. This creates an excellent opportunity to add more “hot desks” or unassigned workstations to give employees the flexibility to work from whichever office is closest to their home, while gathering for in-person team meetings once a week. Bonus: less time in traffic and less pollution.
2. WFH — Working from home is becoming more the norm than the exception. Two-thirds of companies have employees who regularly work remotely, and that’s expected to rise in the coming years. One reason is the continued blurring of the line between work and personal amid expectations that employees be available and responsive outside of normal business hours. Working from home has another major bonus: employees produce the equivalent of a full day’s worth of work when they eliminate commutes and workplace distractions, a recent Stanford study found.
3. Private Spaces — Nobody wants to be overheard while talking to their doctor or having a difficult conversation with a customer. Yet many people find themselves ducking into closets, conference rooms, stairwells or even the bathroom to find a private place for a phone call. Companies should add more sound-proof phone booths on every floor so nobody ever has to bring a phone into the bathroom again (you know who you are).
4. More Work Choice — Gone are the cavernous one-size-fits-all open offices of yesteryear. And it’s good for business, because almost two-thirds of high-performing employees say they need private space to solve problems and do their best work. Savvy companies are using a mix of work spaces that offer varying degrees ofprivacy for the task at hand — a concept known as “work choice.” We love seeing a combination of collaborative team areas, small private rooms for heads-down work, small and medium-sized group meeting rooms, semi-private nooks or work pods, and specialty areas like scrum bays for engineers.
5. Better Bennies — Free beer is so 2010s. Today’s employees want more meaningful perks and benefits for things like student loan repayment, stipends for professional development, educational trips, or extra paid time off for personal enrichment activities.
6. Meeting Austerity — One consistent complaint we hear from employees is that meetings run amok. A 60-minute meeting drags on for two hours, which is 25% of the work day. Nobody thinks to cancel the recurring weekly team meeting even when there’s nothing pressing to talk about. A dozen people get invited to a meeting that really only needed three key decision makers. We think meeting austerity is clutch. Only invite necessary people, only schedule meetings that are critical, stick to the agenda, avoid going down rabbit holes, and let people get back to work.
7. Schedule Time to Think — Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor and CEO of America’s fourth-largest company, estimates that he spends about 80% of his time thinking and reading. He keeps his schedule as wide open as possible and attributes Berkshire Hathaway’s success — with nearly $250 billion in revenue — to the time he spends thinking big thoughts. To protect thinking time, block off your calendar, set an auto response to email and truly unplug. Set priorities and identify the top three to five problems you want to solve. Devote part of your thinking time to daydreaming or considering new ideas.
Do you know what your employees want, and how they feel about your company’s culture? We begin every project with detailed employee surveys that always reveal surprising insights about what a company is doing well, and areas that could be improved. Let’s elevate your workplace. You can reach us here.