Since the dawn of the pandemic, the conversation around work has evolved significantly across the globe. And while a dictionary’s concept of what constitutes an “office” has not yet expanded with the times, many businesses have been working hard to create new working environments that enable employees to thrive under new circumstances. Workers around the world have undergone a collective experience that has caused a change in priorities and outlook about life and work on a visceral level, and as such, the so-called hybrid worker of today is fundamentally different from the office worker of 2019.
Office workers have always needed a functional and supportive environment with the space and tools required to do their best work, however in a post-pandemic world, these work experience enablers must be reviewed alongside work experience drivers such as processes and culture to support an organization’s ambitions in the era of hybrid work: where working portions of a week in different physical locations is the new norm for the many, rather than the few.
Hybrid workers are not all the same, however, and the different roles they fill require different types of spaces to support their office experience. Steelcase research has found workers fall into three distinct categories who, based on the demands of their role, need to use the workplace differently. Creating the right spaces for the right experiences means understanding their evolving needs, as follows:
– Anchored Worker: These workers value personal space and tend to prefer assigned seating because they will primarily be found at their habitual desks. The proximity of storage spaces is therefore of value to them, as well as the provision of spaces to step away to if they require specific acoustical and visual privacy not offered at the workstation.
– Untethered Worker: These workers will likely be required in the office for a set period per week but will be working in shared or unassigned team spaces. As such, they need particularly flexible environments to support their varied work modes, allowing them to go from social settings that deliberately encourage engagement with others to more private areas for deep focus.
– Destination Worker: These workers primarily work out of the office only for tasks that call for larger team collaboration such as team meetings or group activities. They gravitate towards reconfigurable collaborative spaces that can adapt to various scales of privacy as they need some spaces for the execution of individual work to keep a productive balance.
Successful organizations know that a single blueprint for an ideal hybrid work setup does not exist and cannot also be made applicable across all demographics, so one source of inspiration for the post-pandemic workplace is to think about a great neighborhood – vibrant and active communities where people of many kinds come together, because while working from home might be a dream for some, it appears not to be for others, such as India’s Generation Z (Gen Z). Many of these digital natives are itching to return to the office to develop a cohesiveness and team culture which will move their careers forward, setting the future course of employee engagement, retention, and acquisition strategies for many companies.
Millennials and Gen Z are the fastest growing segment of workplace talent in India, so it stands to reason that companies must act now to provide the habitat needed to attract and retain those key performers.
According to a recent report titled “Gen Z and Millennials: Reshaping the Future of Workforce” , Gen Z is looking for culture, learning and growth as key focus areas. What is clear, not just in India but beyond, is that organizations – including those involved in their spatial design – need to be intentional about creating a holistic experience to solve for the changing needs of people within them.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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