Hybrid work isn’t a policy or a project, but instead requires leaders to holistically consider the workplace experience. From how to resource meeting rooms for both in-person and remote teams all the way down to finding the right way to track office usage, there are plenty of logistics to leading flexible, distributed teams.
Yet, the verdict is in and hybrid work is here to stay. So how can organizations manage the spaces, places, and resources required to go wholly hybrid? And, more importantly, how can they ensure their plans reflect the needs of their teams?
For workplace leaders and IT heads the answer lies in the enabling technology tools available to manage today’s workplace. Today, we’ll define:
(1) Exactly what “workplace experience” means
(2) What a workplace experience platform does
(3) The importance of such a platform for effectively managing logistics (like office space booking) and employee experience.
Workplace experience platforms are actually a new software/technology category that has grown due to the pandemic-driven need of organizations to make flexible ways of working widely available, as well as due to the relative newness of the technological tools enabling these now-pervasive flexible ways of working.
What is Workplace Experience?
Work isn’t a place anymore. Workplace experience is about enabling people to be productive and do their best work, no matter where and when they happen to work. It’s about providing a connected and productive workplace everywhere work happens, including at the office, at home, and beyond. The workplace experience function involves facilities management, IT management, HR, as well as emerging roles that have “workplace experience” in their titles (e.g., Director Workplace Experience).
Workplace experience puts people, and supporting their productivity, above places, requiring organizations to build a supportive technological infrastructure that makes location-agnostic ways of working possible. You can’t have a great WFH experience and a bad in-office experience (e.g., employees face friction in booking desks/office space or knowing when colleagues are also coming into the office), that leaves you with a bad workplace experience. People’s productivity must be supported everywhere work happens.
What is a Workplace Experience Platform?
We live in a world filled with platforms, including marketing automation platforms (MAPs), cloud storage/service platforms (Amazon Web Services), and on-demand talent platforms (UpWork, Fiverr), among many others. Whenever various tools and services get bundled to serve a purpose, you have a platform (PaaS or “platforms-as-a-service” is a rapidly growing category of technology).
It’s no different with a workplace experience platform, which is simply an aggregation of tools and services intended to support an organization’s workplace experience strategy. While workplace experience platforms should certainly be customizable to meet the specific and strategic needs of your organization and people, there are core capabilities every platform should have. They should:
- Help employees make the best use of their time and get their work done in location agnostic ways — the platform should enable and support all the touchpoints employees might have within their workplace environment, whether digital or in the office.
- Support an organization’s leaders to manage all aspects of work, whether hybrid, remote, or in-office, including workforce, workplace, and workflow. A workplace experience platform should share workplace data on what’s happening, as well as embrace processes, people and their spaces as important components of hybrid work.
- Empower collaboration, simplify coordination, and provide distributed teams with the resources they need to do their best work.
How to Use a Workplace Experience Platform
1. Start with your workplace strategy.
You need to begin with a clear business strategy in mind and then define the goals you seek to achieve. By the way, boosting your office occupancy rate at the cost of everything else is not an effective hybrid work strategy: it’s a formula for employee disengagement and churn.
It’s senseless to purchase the “coolest” or most expensive workplace experience platform (the one your biggest competitor purchased) if you don’t know why you need it, what you seek to do with it, and what business outcomes you expect to drive with it.
Common strategic outcomes include enhancing employee experience, employee productivity, and talent retention. Your workplace experience can even provide a competitive advantage in hiring talent, as well as in how you effectively deploy your talent to drive business outcomes.
2. Select a technology partner you can trust to offer great tech and solid advice.
You need to find a partner you can trust – not only to provide you with the customizable technology tools you need to deliver on your strategy, but also someone who can offer strategic advice and data points around how you implement and continually execute on your workplace experience strategy.
The right tools mean the right business outcomes. Consider what you need and expect from a workplace experience platform. All solutions are not equal, do your research with your goals as the guide.
3. Keep on learning with an iterative approach to your workplace experience.
Remember, neither your workplace experience nor your workplace experience platform are ever “set and forget” propositions. You’ll need to keep a constant eye on your goals and strategy and then compare your expected outcomes against your actual outcomes as seen through the workplace data you leverage. In short, you’ll need to maintain flexibility, be ready to pivot as needed, and keep an iterative mindset.
Just months into its strict, return-to-office mandate, for example, automaker Tesla is now struggling with workplace experience problems, including overcrowding in its offices, shortages of office resources, and low employee morale. If your leadership team thinks that simply issuing a blanket RTO mandate (“it’s my way or the highway”) will bring a great workplace experience, your top talent is likely to vote “no” with their feet.
You simply can’t provide a poor, inflexible workplace experience and keep your top talent. A workplace experience platform is a strategic tool that allows you to quantify your workplace experience and then gives you the insights you need to respond with appropriate changes to optimize the entire workplace experience.
Want to learn even more about workplace experience and the need for a workplace experience platform to enable it? Read our new report “Practical Advice for Hybrid Work 2.0.”