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The Modern Workplace and How to Better It

The reality of 2020 is that for most of us, the workplace has become our home office or kitchen table. COVID-19 has turned the modern workplace on its head, and everything we thought we knew about it no longer exists for the time being. It's unsure when we will all get back to the office, but it’s worth taking a look at attitudes toward the modern workplace through the lens of our current situation. We also have to ask how our remote working experiences might shape the workplace when everything returns to normal. Keep reading to learn more about what employees think is essential in the modern workplace.

In 2019, Gensler Research surveyed 6,000+ employees working in the United States. They found some interesting trends about what is really important to employees in the workplace and how that impacts business.

Social Change

The overwhelming majority of workers in today’s companies are millennials and most of them want to feel good about their work. It’s hard to tell if this is a reaction to some of the recent headlines of companies being accused of discrimination, sexual harassment and hostile work environments, but I think we can all agree that even those of us who aren’t millennials would like to work for a responsible employer.

Millennials are not just looking for companies that have a mission that positively impacts the community. They are also in search of workplaces that treat their employees ethically and champion diversity. These practices should be evident throughout the company and woven into every fiber of how business is conducted. Just preparing a crafty mission statement that tugs at the heartstrings will not convince employees that you are a socially responsible corporation.

More Private Space

You may be surprised to hear that employees are asking for more private space to work and concentrate. When we see cutting-edge workspaces in the media with bean bag chairs and foosball tables, we tend to think that equates to everyone working in an open space all the time. Employees do want open spaces to collaborate together too, but not all the time. Most survey respondents said they preferred a mix of open and private spaces. Finding the best balance between public and private in a workspace is the sweet spot. People who have some level of choice in where and how they work throughout the day are much happier and more engaged with their work.

Team Building is Most Important

Team building was the number one aspect of a great workplace according to survey respondents. Employees find it much easier to collaborate when they have a strong team foundation. That’s good for their wellbeing and professional satisfaction, and it’s also good for the company of course. I think we have all been members of less than ideal teams where collaboration and teamwork weren’t emphasized. If you’re lucky, you may have also been part of a great team, so you know that’s when the best work happens.

More Amenities Don’t Equal Greater Effectiveness

Perhaps one of the most interesting takeaways from the Gensler survey was that amenities that optimize work were the most desired by employees and the most effective. Amenities that emphasize an escape from work don’t seem to benefit the employees or the company in a measurable way. Think of outdoor workspaces or places where employees can gather comfortably to collaborate. This makes doing one’s job a little easier and more enjoyable. A foosball table is a good diversion, but doesn’t help employees enjoy their actual jobs. Giving employees variety and choice in how and where they do their job is probably the most sought after and effective workplace “amenity.”


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