The Human Touch: Four Ways the Workplace is Becoming More Human-Focused

Today, employees are seeking environments that are more mobile, flexible, and personalized. JLL’s Workplace Strategy Lead, Bernice Boucher outlines four major ways the workplace is changing for the better. 

Do you experience happiness at work? What, exactly, makes your workplace experience happy? A good manager and like-able, competent co-workers are important, of course. Yet, a new study shows that the physical workplace itself can make or break your happiness on the job.

Happiness, rather than technology, is the key ingredient in a unique workplace experience, say nearly 70 percent of employees in Workplace—Powered by Human Experience, a global study of more than 7,300 employees in 12 countries. Most people are happier and more productive when their office is designed around their needs, rather than around rigid lines of “cube farms” or private offices. And, CEOs are noticing.

Savvy C-suite executives today recognize a direct correlation between a productive workplace and healthy balance sheet. In industries where talent is scarce—which are many these days—employees are beginning to have the upper hand in how workplaces are designed.

In addition to designing around the needs of the employee, offering positive, experiential work environments can help alleviate stress on the job. That’s meaningful, in light of American Psychological Association research finding that 65 percent of people say work is a top source of stress, while only 36 percent say that their workplace provides adequate support. Stress can lead to an array of adverse health effects, which in turn can trigger absence.

Image courtesy of Tim Gouw via Unsplash.

There’s also overwhelming evidence that shows clear links between employee well-being and organizational success. One example comes from University of Warwick researchers, who found that “happy” employees are 12 percent more productive than those who are unhappy.

And more, an optimal experience in the office can add value not only for the people who work there, but also for customers, visitors and other stakeholders who might come through the doors.

Here are four ways that we know workplaces are changing for the better:

1) Work is wherever I say it is

On a boat, on a beach, in a coffee shop—the beauty of mobile working is that you can work anywhere, at any time, and ideally, on any device.

Image courtesy of Toa Heftiba via Unsplash.

Mobile working applies to offices, too. Who says you have to work at one desk all day? Many companies have started to recognize that it’s better to offer different kinds of workspaces and let people decide for themselves where they want to work. A human-focused workplace might offer quiet rooms, huddle rooms, coffee lounges, community patios and other alternatives to the traditional desk.

2) Workplace tech you can use without tech support

A great app doesn’t need instructions or a help desk. Workplace technology should be like that, too. However, 48 percent of employees around the world say their workplace could provide more to help them work effectively, as reported in Workplace—Powered by Human Experience. Some companies are recognizing that workplace tools that are easy to use go a long way toward work happiness. One Chicago company, for example, provides two wireless presentation screens in its larger conference rooms so employees can quickly connect and collaborate.

3) Making life easier so the work is easier

You can find workplaces that actually pay attention to your wellbeing, too, whether that means physical health or stress reduction. Fitness centers are commonplace these days, but what if your office had a meditation room or a concierge desk to make that elusive work-life balance more manageable? Or, imagine having an IT service desk on your floor, or near the coffee lounge, where you could ask a quick question or drop off your laptop.

A meditation room at WeWork’s Chinatown location in D.C. Image via WeWork.com.

4) A workplace that works for you

You probably have a smartphone or smart home device with a built-in “person” who responds to your commands. Today’s building technologies aren’t quite ready to converse, but they can automatically adjust the temperature and ventilation according to the number of people using an office or the sunlight heating up a room. Eventually, you’ll be able to ask your workspace to turn down the heat a notch or turn up the lights to create the perfect environment for working.

Who’s in charge of workplace happiness?

More than a few companies have decided that the best way to hone in on happiness in the workplace is to put someone in charge of it. From “experience director” to “chief happiness officer,” new job titles are standing shoulder to shoulder with familiar ones like chief executive officer and chief information officer. And according to ‘Workplace—Powered by Human Experience’, the timing couldn’t be better—87 percent of employees worldwide say that having a Chief Happiness Officer in their workplace would be a good idea.

Not ready to add this C-suite title? Happiness doesn’t necessarily need a formal role, but it does require a deliberate, collaborative effort across the organization to ensure consistent focus on improving employee engagement.

Image via Unsplash.

To make sure your company is implementing the right actions, focus carefully on the “why” behind those decisions and connect them to a larger purpose. The minor details and actions matter—each one feeds into a bigger message about the organization and its culture. By prioritizing the human experience in your workplace, you create a culture where employees feel engaged, empowered and fulfilled, leading to peak organizational performance.

Employees today expect more from their workplaces than ever before. The one-size-fits-all model is no longer relevant as workers seek environments that are more mobile, flexible and personalized. Offering thoughtfully designed facilities, offices and experiences is a great way to attract and retain top talent while fostering employee well-being, engagement, and productivity. The benefits are immeasurable.

More from Bernice Boucher

1 Comment

  • mobile, flexible, and personalized workplace gives refreshment and good environment to work Thanks for the four major ways the workplace is changing for the better.

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