Pre-pandemic the office was the default. Even companies with work-from-home policies saw most workers in-office three days a week.
Now, flexible work is an expectation, not a perk. Employees across the globe have realized that hybrid work models are better suited to a more balanced life.
Yet, for companies, this poses an interesting challenge. How do you create a workspace that suits each employees’ preference?
Turns out, answering that question is a whole job in itself.
New workplace roles emerge from pandemic
Leaders across IT, HR and operations were thrust into new functions as the pandemic hit. Questions about safety protocols, office design, attendance policies and beyond needed to be answered and these departments were best suited to step in.
Now, as we enter the later stages of the pandemic, we’re asking new questions:
- How do we determine what kind of space we need?
- How can we create an equitable experience for remote, hybrid and in-office workers?
- What kind of workplace stack do we have to manage employee experience?
- How are we using workplace analytics to inform our office decisions?
- Are we prepared to succeed regardless of future crises?
The response? New roles, dedicated to workplace experience and answering the questions of the modern workforce.
In the wild (read: LinkedIn), we’ve seen all sorts of exciting new roles popping up. To highlight a few:
- The Global Head of Employee Experience - AirBnB
- Vice President of Flex Work - LinkedIn
- Director of Workplace Experience - Tinder
- Head of Workplace Experience - Forto
What do these new positions mean about the future of work?
With the creation of roles dedicated to building an equitable workplace experience, it’s clear that companies are making way for the future.
Hybrid work will continue to grow but what else can organizations expect from this shift?
1) A renewed focus on employee experience
This is an employees market and companies are moving to build workplaces that suit the needs of competitive candidates. A Bloomberg survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about where they work.
Organizations have responded by carving out roles like the ones mentioned above. But, it’s important to remember that offering hybrid work policies is only the first step.
To make hybrid work sticky, office spaces will need to evolve to meet the needs of all workers. As some of the titles above suggest, organizations will be putting more emphasis on creating activity-based working environments.
And, before you buy that foosball table, remember: creating a workplace destination isn’t just about perks. It’s about making the office a resource for your team. By making changes physically, digitally, and across how people work, you can create a space that works for everyone.
2) A wave of investment in HR functions
During the course of the pandemic, HR leaders were met with the task of change management during a global health crisis. This included things like:
- Transitioning hiring and onboarding to virtual practices.
- Communicating ever-changing health guidelines to staff.
- Managing office protocol and making decisions on return logistics.
As we enter this era of work, companies will be looking at HR to pave the way for a new way of working. We will continue to see roles pop up that are dedicated to the various aspects of managing people, places and safety protocols.
These roles will play a critical role in organizational success as employees continue to choose employers based on things like workplace experience and flexibility.
3) An increased need for workplace analytics
Data will play a critical role in making decisions about office space. Organizations are having to become much more data driven to understand trends and respond to the needs of their teams.
Office analytics that track office capacity, desk usage and even bounce rate (employees that come in once and never return) will be paired with employee feedback to make informed decisions about the workplace.
According to research by Gartner, 16% of employers are now using technology that can help them monitor internal communications and enable employees to virtually clock in and out. We expect this number to steadily increase.
Workplace experience is evolving
As we continue to make way on the global return to office, businesses are presented with a unique opportunity. For the first time in decades, we have the chance to really rethink the employee experience.
We can account for inequities that have run deep in office culture too long.
We can take strides towards shortening the gender gap in workplaces.
We can empower talent teams to hire the best candidate, not the candidate with the right zip code.
These new job functions will play a critical role in what the new normal looks like. And with the help of the right technology, every company will be empowered to address employee experience in a more targeted and dynamic way.