Starting in early 2020, organizations everywhere experienced unprecedented challenges. Through this unpredictable period, there was a clear need for guidance and support. We responded by leveraging our expertise—as well as tapping our network of experts in environmental psychology, community management, real estate and facilities management, and beyond—to offer insights, community and the latest best practices.
Starting with a map
At the beginning, employees were trying to figure out how to succeed at long-term telework, and employers sought guidance on how best to support their teams. As advocates for human-centric workplaces that harness flexibility and technology in pursuit of performance and wellness, we realized that we could help by sharing our knowledge and offering support.
We released a roadmap to guide organizations in discovering their own unique version of the future workplace. This article received tons of attention—it was read over 23,000 times—and we published an updated version in CoreNet’s Leader in the fall.
Realizing the level of need, we began hosting webinars in order to dig deeper into each step of our roadmap. Attendees from a wide range of professions—from architecture to HR—showed up to learn and share strategies.
Exploring each step
Through a bi-weekly webinar series we shared more detail on the various issues—cultural, technical, and otherwise—that were arising as people and organizations worked through the disruption of the initial lockdowns. But even then it was clear that it was time to begin planning for the inevitable return to work, so we joined Density’s CEO interview series to discuss “Safely Returning to Workplace.”
We began to notice that questions from our attendees were becoming less focused on the mechanics of dealing with COVID—cleaning protocols and such—and more about the future of work. We had an opportunity to share more about this when our friends at Lehigh University hosted their own panel on “The Future of Workplace Post-COVID.” A prominent part of this conversation was our own contribution, which focused on change management principles and practices that could help employees adapt in the short term while also building a foundation for workplace evolution once the pandemic has passed. Entro’s “Returning to a New Workplace”. We also teamed up with Bala Engineering to discuss how the people who design and build spaces can respond to the uncertain future of the physical office.
Toward lasting impacts
To move organizations toward a future workplace that is better than the one they had pre-COVID, we began hosting panels focused on the future. This include a special focus on how to optimize for the hybrid workplace that was clearly poised to become a dominant paradigm in the near future. Our subsequent sessions have been geared toward employers who are looking for guidance to help develop strategies for the hybrid workforce.
As the pandemic demonstrated, the environments we inhabit have direct impacts on our physical and mental health. While this has always been the case, the last year has made it particularly salient, and has made it more important than ever to support occupant wellness with building systems.
Every organization is unique—harnessing technology to collect the right data is critical to developing and implementing a future workplace that fits the circumstances. As long-time proponents of integrating the data streams of smart building technology within our own mixed methods research, we are big believers in the use of technology to inform workplace intelligence,
A lot of the things people were telling us they needed—a greater focus on wellness, a more functional approach to the workplace—were things that we’ve always been advocating. We discussed how trends that were already in the works before the pandemic have accelerated and now cannot be ignored in our sessions around design for the future of work and the urgent need to consider flexible approaches like activity-based working.
Companies face new questions about the value of physical work environments, including—in a first for many—whether they should have them at all. We hosted a session about the importance of brand expression as a cultural tool and the need to rethink how organizations practice it. In another of our panels, we discussed how coworking, which combines strategic colocation with the amenities and services of the serviced office, is evolving to include more corporate customers. Companies can use the serviced office model to enable cross-firm collaboration, spontaneous interactions and knowledge-sharing that improve how work is done.
We continue to share the up-to-the minute thought leadership through our ongoing sessions. Incorporating a year of lessons and insights from our work with clients, we launched a revised version of our workplace reentry roadmap, which you can watch here.
To see what’s coming up next, check out our upcoming events.