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What is Workplace Experience and How You Can Improve It

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 — January 25th, 2024

What is Workplace Experience and How You Can Improve It

I know what you are thinking… “Workplace Experience!”. Yet another buzzword. And surely it means the same thing as “Employee Experience”?

Well, true, there are definite similarities. But one crucial difference. While employee experience transcends location, workplace experience is contingent upon and emerges from the physical workspace. We characterize a good workplace experience as employees consistently having positive feelings toward their work environment throughout the day. Workplace experience is shaped by their interactions within their physical workspace but also, their interactions with the space itself.

Think of it his way: employee experience encompasses the entire journey of an employee from job interview to exit interview. Workplace experience makes up just one facet of that journey; it is how an employee feels about where they are spending that journey. But don’t be mistaken - it’s not entirely about the physical - workplace experience also encompasses the intangible - the vibe of the workplace.

So why does workplace experience even matter if it’s just part of the broader concept of “employee experience”? Workplace Experience matters because it directly influences various aspects of an employee's professional life, impacting engagement, productivity, talent management, company culture, and overall well-being.

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Retention

Remember, offices and HQs are often the beating heart of an organization - setting the tone and the tempo for work. Workplaces reflect the culture, the mood of the workforce, and the values embraced by the organization, creating an environment that significantly influences employee satisfaction and productivity.

So, let’s dig a little deeper and find out how to ensure your employees have a good workplace experience.

1. Enhancing Workplace Experience: Understanding Employee Populations

The first step toward enhancing workplace experience is gaining a nuanced understanding of your employee populations. Broadly, this entails a thorough examination of two critical components: managing remote teams and navigating onsite work dynamics.

Yet, you might argue, as we've acknowledged that workplace experience is often linked to the physical office or factory location, whether a remote employee can truly have "workplace experience"?

Yes, a remote employee can indeed have a form of "workplace experience," although it might be more accurately described as a "virtual workplace experience." While the conventional workplace experience is commonly tied to a physical office, remote employees can still have a meaningful and impactful experience within their virtual work environments. This experience includes factors such as the digital tools and technologies they use, virtual collaboration, communication platforms, and the overall remote work culture fostered by the organization.

Managing Remote Teams

Creating a positive remote work experience requires a strategic, hands-on approach. It begins with investing in robust communication tools that facilitate seamless collaboration. Establishing clear expectations and guidelines for remote work helps maintain productivity and ensure a healthy work-life balance. Prioritizing regular virtual check-ins, fostering team camaraderie through online team-building

activities, and providing continuous professional development opportunities contribute to the overall well-being and engagement of remote employees.

Practical examples

  • Wellness check-ins to verify each employee's ergonomic setup.
  • Hosting virtual “get-to-know-you” team sessions for better mutual understanding.
  • Utilizing employee messaging channels and a dedicated mobile app for smooth communication.
  • Maintaining cohesion across physical and virtual spaces

Navigating Onsite Work Dynamics

For those working on-site, a positive workplace experience is determined by the organizational culture and the dynamics within physical workspaces. Promoting inclusivity, open communication, and a supportive atmosphere are fundamentals. Yes, we are back to “the vibe”! Some may be dismissive of this concept. A workplace vibe may seem intangible or insignificant. But in reality, a workplace that “feels happy” translates into tangible behaviors. Good vibes manifest as positivity and a sense of energy, reflected in engaged, productive employees. Conversely, a low vibe evokes stress and limitations, leading to disempowering behaviors, low-level thinking, and disengagement with tasks.

Leaders should actively seek employee feedback, provide opportunities for skill development, and implement wellness initiatives. Recognizing and accommodating diverse needs, such as flexible schedules or quiet workspaces, contributes to employee satisfaction and retention. Navigating on-site work dynamics also involves addressing any interpersonal conflicts promptly and fostering a sense of belonging among team members.

2. AI's Impact on the Workplace

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 18 months, you've likely come across discussions about the pros and cons of AI in the workplace. It's undeniable that AI is already firmly entrenched in our professional landscape and is poised to become even more prevalent. As AI technology advances, its influence on the workplace experience intensifies. Key aspects of this impact include optimizing internal comms through AI and delicately managing the balance between automation and the human touch – a crucial factor influencing how employees perceive their roles in the office.

When introducing any new technology or initiative, the golden rule is to adopt a people-centric approach. Here, the concern among employees revolves around the usage of data by AI, potential job displacement, and a lack of adequate understanding of the technology. So, use training to help bridge that disconnect. Providing adequate training to up-skill workers is the most consequential factor driving the success of AI use cases in HR. About 75% of leaders agree that when employees are trained on AI, the technology is demystified, concern levels drop, and engagement rises. The sense of unease is allayed.

Leveraging AI for Enhanced Workplace Communication

Artificial Intelligence (AI) significantly enhances the flow of internal communications and workplace interactions.

  • AI-powered chatbots streamline communication channels, providing instant and accurate responses to routine HR queries, reducing response times, and ensuring efficient information flow.
  • Automated scheduling and reminder systems improve coordination among team members, minimizing the likelihood of miscommunication and missed deadlines.
  • AI-driven analytics analyze communication patterns, helping organizations tailor their messaging for maximum impact.
  • Virtual assistants contribute to personalized communication experiences, offering tailored updates and information to employees.
  • AI facilitates sentiment analysis, enabling employers to gauge employee engagement and address potential concerns promptly.
  • AI-driven analytics play a crucial role in understanding employee performance, preferences, and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach enables organizations to tailor their strategies, training programs, and policies to better meet the needs and expectations of their workforce. It creates a personalized experience for employees, making them feel valued and supported in their professional growth.

Balancing Automation with Human Touch

While AI presents significant advantages in terms of efficiency, we must strike a balance between automation and preserving the human touch within the workplace. Overreliance on AI without considering the human aspect can lead to challenges such as employee disengagement and a sense of detachment from the work process. For example, if an employee faces a sensitive matter, such as a mental health concern, a personal grievance, or a conflict with a manager, a compassionate HR colleague should be immediately available for an in-person meeting with the affected employee. No one wants to share delicate information with a robot.

Implementing AI ethically and transparently is crucial to fostering trust among employees. Clearly communicating how AI is utilized and assuring employees that it is meant to enhance, not replace, their roles helps alleviate concerns and build a positive perception of AI within the workplace.

3. Revamping Workplace Design for Enhanced Employee Experience

“The spaces we inhabit affect our creativity, productivity, and overall well-being. Design environments that empower and inspire." - Nellie Borrero

The physical workspace design and layout have a huge influence on the workplace experience, reflecting and reinforcing an organization's culture, vision, and values. Strategic workplace design should be aligned with HR objectives. For further ideas and inspiration for innovative workplace design, check out this article. Here, we will focus on two key elements - the adoption of digital signage and the adaptation of spaces to accommodate hybrid work models.

Digital Signage: A Modern Approach

A happy workplace is inhabited by a connected, informed, engaged workforce. Digital signage offers a dynamic and visually appealing means to disseminate information throughout the office. Whether it's sharing company updates, promoting employee achievements, or providing real-time data, digital signage serves as an engaging platform. This enhances internal communication and contributes to a sense of community and shared purpose. Integrating AI-driven content on digital displays can personalize messages based on employee preferences, creating a more tailored and inclusive experience. By embracing digital signage, organizations create a vibrant and interactive atmosphere that aligns with contemporary expectations, elevating the overall workplace experience.

Examples

  • Employee Recognition Boards showcase employee achievements, milestones, and recognitions on digital displays to boost morale, help to create a positive work culture, and celebrate individual and team successes.
  • Wellness and Event Updates keep employees informed about wellness programs, social events, and company activities through digital signage, promoting a sense of community within the workplace.

Adapting Spaces for Hybrid Work Models

As the workforce landscape evolves, the concept of hybrid work models, combining remote and onsite work, has gained prominence. Adapting physical spaces to accommodate this shift is instrumental in ensuring an inclusive work environment. Designing flexible workspaces that support in-person or virtual collaboration promotes a sense of adaptability and inclusivity. Incorporating technology such as video conferencing facilities and interactive whiteboards facilitates effective communication between onsite and remote employees. Providing a variety of work settings, from collaborative zones to quiet spaces, caters to diverse work preferences, enhancing the overall employee experience. By revamping the physical workspace to align with hybrid work models, organizations demonstrate agility and a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of their workforce.

Examples

Bookable Collaboration Pods for Flexibility:

  • Create dedicated collaboration pods within the office that employees can book for focused work or virtual meetings.
  • Air Quality Monitoring and Purification Systems: Did you know that Improving indoor air quality can increase productivity by 8-11%? Integrating air quality monitoring systems coupled with air purification technologies in shared workspaces ensures a clean and healthy indoor environment.

4. Managing Wellness in the Workplace

A supportive workplace acknowledges the importance of mental health, recognizing that it is integral to overall well-being. These kinds of workplaces will be the ones to thrive in the future. According to a Deloitte survey, 46% of Gen Zs say they are stressed or anxious all or most of the time. This generation is actively looking for employers who understand the need to prioritize mental health and work-life balance.

Promoting Mental Health and Well-being

Initiatives promoting mental health can include regular mindfulness sessions, access to counseling services, and destigmatizing conversations around mental health challenges. Designating quiet or reflection spaces within the office provides employees with a sanctuary for moments of respite. Significantly, 63% of employees feel there is inadequate access to quiet spaces in the workplace. Additionally, flexible work arrangements and policies that encourage a healthy work-life balance reduce stress levels and improve mental well-being.

Incorporating nature elements, such as indoor plants or views of green spaces, adds a biophilic touch, proven to reduce stress and enhance mental focus. Biophilic design principles enhance aesthetic appeal while contributing to improved air quality, employee well-being, and a connection with nature in home and office settings within a hybrid work model.

Transparent communication about mental health resources and creating a culture that supports open dialogue around well-being further strengthen the foundation for a mentally healthy workplace. This extends to your remote workers, who may be suffering in silence. One survey of today’s remote workforce shows that most workers (80%) would consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employees’ mental health.

Given that Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with widespread access to technology, they also appreciate workplaces that leverage technology to support mental health. Access to digital mental health resources, apps, or platforms that provide tools for stress management, meditation, or mood tracking aligns with Gen Z's comfort with technology and desire for personalized well-being solutions.

Balancing Workload for Employee Resilience

As with all things wellness, balance is the answer. A balanced workload is key to creating a resilient workforce. Providing clear expectations and setting realistic goals all contribute to a healthier work pace.

  • Implementing smart scheduling systems that prioritize realistic timelines for project completion helps prevent unnecessary stress.
  • Encouraging employees to take regular breaks, whether short walks or mindfulness sessions, aids in maintaining focus and energy levels.
  • A physically comfortable workspace with ergonomic furniture and proper lighting also contributes to employee well-being and supports their ability to manage workload demands.
  • Think outside the box- take inspiration from different cultures. For example, in Sweden, engaging in "fika" entails leaving your desk to enjoy coffee and treats with coworkers. In contrast to an individual going on a coffee run, Sweden emphasizes a shared break, fostering a collective pause in the workday. These little moments are what can make an office environment special.

Conclusion

Prioritizing employee experience in the workplace can serve as a compelling advantage for businesses seeking to attract top talent. Studies indicate that 73% of employees consider the workplace a pivotal factor in their job satisfaction, with 56% stating they would decline a job offer if the workplace environment did not meet their standards.

However, a positive workplace experience goes beyond internal satisfaction; it establishes a distinctive identity for your organization. The positive energy within your teams and office vibe can set off a butterfly effect, shaping your business interactions and setting you apart from competitors. This resonates not only with employees but also extends to customers, partners, and all stakeholders.

A workplace characterized by positivity, collaboration, and engagement attracts top talent and influences how your organization is perceived externally. The benefits of a thriving workplace experience radiate outward and have the potential to leave a lasting imprint on the broader ecosystem in which your business operates.

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