A new workforce is emerging. A workforce that knows what it wants and puts a premium on happiness and the ability to be flexible at work. Gone are the days of old stuffy cubicles and bland offices where the only company is the hum of the printer and a flickering light. In their place, a new breed of offices beaming with light, bright and airy spaces, which will facilitate human interaction to better allow the free flow of ideas, knowledge and experience.
This is the future office, one that puts the human experience at the centre of everything. According to our recent report, Workplace – powered by Human Experience, employees want a ‘human workspace’. No-one wants to spend their working lives cramped or stuck at desks that make it difficult to interact with other and to work. They want to feel empowered, engaged and, most importantly, happy.
Employers are starting to recognise this too. In fact, when we asked corporate real estate (CRE) leaders at this year’s CoreNet Global summit in London what they thought about the working environment, we found a remarkable degree of overlap in the two groups’ attitude toward workspace innovation.
Both are fundamentally progressive in outlook and are prepared to embrace change. What’s more, both see the office as more than just bricks and mortar but rather as the very heart and soul of the organisation it houses. A differing factor in opinion is that CRE leaders are focussed on innovation in the work place, while employees primarily ask for fundamental ‘managerial healthiness’ – made up of recognition, kindness and the right to be happy whilst at work. Hence human leadership is the prerequisite for a successful entrepreneurial dynamic.
So, if both employees and employers believe offices should make people happy, what can be done?
Firstly, by betting on human leadership, your staff are automatically positioned at the core of your business. If human leadership is upheld as a vital component within the company, you will inspire your staff to embrace and run with any new initiatives, as they will feel more invested in the business as a whole. In addition, businesses who are bold and progressive in how they approach the happiness and productivity of their staff are much more likely to reap the rewards. As part of the evolved concept of happiness, our report revealed that employees want to feel that their physical workplaces provide opportunities for personal learning (54%), creativity (53%) and inspiration (43%).
Employees need to feel as though their own individual working style is accommodated at work, and that they are trusted by management to work effectively and productively in their chosen working environment, as opposed to being closely monitored in an uninspiring office space. Investing in workspaces that facilitate creative thinking and co-working will ultimately provide employees with a space that inspires them. 66% of UK offices do not currently provide any sort of creative space, so the move towards more collaborative and varied ways of working is long overdue.
Another way staff can be made to feel more valued and engaged is through appointing a dedicated member of staff to oversee employee’s happiness at work. Appointing a ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ (CHO) could not only help ensure that employees’ feelings are carefully monitored and supported day-to-day, but also sends a powerful message that the company’s staff really are the beating heart of the organisation.
Of course, appointing a CHO is not the only solution. Businesses still need to ensure that their offices are designed in a way that promotes a productive working environment. Put simply, a CHO may be a useful tool in boosting employee happiness, but it is not the only solution. The best way to achieve a happier and more productive work force is to adopt a number of measures in tandem rather than isolation. And give yourself the permission to be daring!
The ethos placed behind such initiatives is most important: the workplace revolution must be supported by an authentic managerial revolution. Trust, kindness and the ability to take the initiative constitutes the basic ground for an innovative work environment project, and if staff are inspired and enthused, you will be on to a winner.