Strategy & LeadershipHR StrategyWhy the future of work is human-centric

Why the future of work is human-centric

Sharon Bachar, head of people, international, WeWork, delves into the importance of flexibility, health and safety, and user-centric design solutions.

The impact of the pandemic on our lives has been universal. It has created seismic waves in the world of work, providing an opportunity for companies to pause, reset and revaluate their working policies and business assets in this new era of uncertainty. Likewise, employees – who have been exposed to greater flexibility and autonomy – are also giving more thought to how, where and when they want to work. They are paying more attention to the benefits that employers offer, prioritising their wellbeing and safety more than ever before.

With the promising progress on COVID-19 vaccinations, the novelty of working from home long gone, and the increasing demand for flexible and safe workplaces, businesses must now explore ways to adopt a hybrid and human-centric approach. Health and safety must be at the forefront to ensure long-term employee satisfaction, strengthen business performance and remain a competitor in the ongoing war to attract and retain top talent.

Here are four tips to help businesses engage their workforce and embrace a new style of working that places the employee at the core in the future of work.

Flexibility is the future

The past year has taught us many things; most notably, that although working from home can be done and many have enjoyed this opportunity to spend more time with loved ones, balance domestic jobs and spend less time commuting, it is not a long-term or sustainable solution for everyone. Remote work has proven to, at times, stifle productivity, collaboration, innovation and wellbeing. In a recent survey in partnership with Brightspot, we found that the vast majority (90 per cent) of people want to return to the office at least one day a week. Employees miss regularly reconnecting with colleagues and often feel unproductive and isolated at home.

The value of the office, therefore, remains intact but as a repurposed space away from home to collaborate with colleagues, and accommodate different working styles and tasks that can’t always be done at home. With this in mind, and especially with the newfound trust established between employer and employee over the past year, companies should look to explore new avenues of flexible working. For example, adopting satellite offices across a city or country would allow your employees to work wherever is most convenient and suitable for them and reduce travel times in the process. For this very reason, at WeWork, we have been able to enhance our flexible offering and leverage our scale by launching ‘All Access’ – a new membership product which gives our members access to any one of our 800+ locations globally.

Health and safety takes centre stage

Flexible working arrangements must support and amplify the tasks that can’t happen remotely, and employee safety – which has become even more critical since the start of the pandemic – is intrinsically linked to this. Enhancing cleaning measures and modifying space to adhere to new social distancing requirements and local government guidance is paramount. Companies should make these changes according to how their spaces are used; for example, high-traffic areas and meeting rooms should be altered to create a socially distanced layout and new occupancy level.

What is also absolutely crucial is that when employees go into the office, they feel reassured; this can be achieved through increased communication by using behavioural signage to direct employees around the office safely and to enforce face-covering policies where applicable. Complimentary sanitisation products should also be dotted around each space. At WeWork, we worked with internal experts and external advisers to implement precautions and protocols to instil confidence for both our employees and members. The agility of our business model means we were able to adapt our spaces and introduce these measures quickly and efficiently. Our modifications have been independently audited and verified by Bureau Veritas, a globally recognised audit agency.

User-centric design solutions in the future of work

With the renewed purpose of the office as a space away from home to be collaborative, creative and productive, design must now play an important role in not only striking a balance between focus work and team projects, but inspiring employees as they enter the space. Offices are no longer about having a desk to work from Monday to Friday, and so making your design as flexible as possible allows you to adapt physical space based on what employees want from the office, almost overnight.

At WeWork, due to the nature of our spaces, we have been able to introduce collaboration hubs; taking our existing spaces and designing them to meet different working styles. We also speak to our members and employees to create bespoke solutions balanced around their evolving needs. Speak to your employees on a regular basis to understand their needs and what they would like from their workspace.

Employee sentiment and satisfaction

The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental wellbeing, and working from home full time during lockdowns has left many employees feeling isolated and unmotivated. A recent study showed that returning to the office for four to five days a week (when restrictions allow) led to a 54% increase in morale, compared to those working from home. Now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, it is more important than ever to check in with your employees to see how they are and how they would like to work moving forward.

These insights should be the backbone of planning for the future of work. It is also essential that senior leadership not only takes a transparent and honest approach to let employees know about any upcoming policy changes or new working rotas, but also welcomes any feedback or new ideas. Checking in with my team on a regular basis has been critical in understanding how they are feeling. Their varying perspectives have also helped shape and improve some of our initiatives.

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

2w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article
WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

Leadership Learnings WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

4m Amy Kirkham

WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid wo...

Alison Noon-Jones, VP of People & Culture at Leidos UK & Europe, shares how crucial employee engagement and participation is when shaping the people s...

View article
Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

Leadership Development Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

5m Terence Mauri

Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your...

HRD thought leader and Hack Future Lab founder Terence Mauri sets out why the biggest risk to leadership is not turbulence itself, but leading with ye...

View article

Company leaders should also look to create virtual events and employee perks to keep employees engaged and connected, whether they are at home or in the office. At WeWork, we partnered with Unmind, the workplace mental health platform, and have introduced a virtual events programme for members and employees; so far, we have hosted over 900 events online.

The past year has been incredibly tough, but it has also created a unique opportunity to shift to a more agile and human-centric approach in the future of work – something which employees have always wanted and needed. With a new trust between employers and their employees, repurposing the office as a space for collaboration and productivity and injecting greater flexibility into your working policies is key to surviving and thriving in the future of work.

Subscribe to HRD Connect for daily updates on the future of work, including thought leadership, video interviews, the HRD Live Podcast and more.

Comments are closed.

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

2w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article