According to a study carried out in October 2020 by Welcome to the Jungle, 59% of the surveyed companies said they were ready to adopt or intensify the Flex Office in the coming years. The question today is no longer whether or not to adopt this new way of working, but rather “how to make this transition” while ensuring employees’ well-being.
The notion of well-being is also a crucial element while implementing a new form of hybrid work within companies. According to the same survey, 49% of French employees believe that on-site professional fulfilment and work-private life balance are two essential criteria for ensuring their well-being. They consider them more important than the wage level. In other words, beyond its purely technological aspect, to best bring your employees together on the Smart Office policy, keep in mind that it is above all a human revolution.
Technology and people, two different temporalities
To implement hybrid work within a company, it is necessary to adopt new digital tools. This investment, both in hardware and software, is necessary. However it is a fast, mechanical and collective process. A period of adaptation and training is bound to take place, but this learning process is within everyone’s reach.
A human onboarding is inherently slower, highly individual and therefore more difficult. It requires your employees to thoroughly review their work patterns and the way they organise themselves on a daily basis. Of course, new practices rarely become a reflex in the blink of an eye. It is important to understand that an employee used to working in an open space for several years is not going to turn into a Flex Office champion overnight.
Someone forgot to declare their office presence in advance? Another forgot to cancel a room booking further to a meeting cancellation? First of all, understanding is the key. Human challenges are more complicated and difficult to understand because they are all about emotion and affect, not strictly about technology. Changing your organisational culture is going to require patience while ensuring real support.
Co-construction, the key to corporate well-being
Before undertaking a Smart Office adventure, it is important to take into account the realities of your company and the experience of your employees. Although Flex Office makes it possible to better organise space, this optimisation may initially worry your employees. Indeed, having one’s own desk was often associated with a form of comforting intimacy. In order to bring your employees together, you need to make them understand that Flex Office is not about reducing individual space and well-being. On the contrary, this nomadism allows you to be in contact with new colleagues and thus create new synergies within the same work space.
In order to minimise misunderstandings about Flex Office, a company must co-construct this new form of hybrid work. Indeed, employees who have been involved in the transformation process will adhere much more easily to the project.
This co-construction process can take different forms. For example, it can be useful to appoint ambassadors upstream so that each team can express its expectations. It is also possible, via an e-mail survey, to identify your employees’ preferences among several proposals.
Preparing managers for this paradigm shift
The Smart Office initiative is first and foremost a corporate project that must reinvent the relation to work and the employee experience. To achieve a balanced social life in the company, managers need to maintain team spirit. For example, employees’ schedules must be adapted to this new dynamic.
In the office, care should be taken to encourage group projects and to take advantage of employees’ on-site presence to solve existing problems as much as possible. When working from home, it is preferable that everyone works on tasks that require more concentration. Again, this balance should not be dictated, but rather suggested. To do so, it is important to highlight the benefits for everyone in this new task distribution.
In addition, managers must not overlook an important psychological aspect. Although the ability to adopt Flex Office depends on each person, there is a certain generational logic. This appropriation will come more naturally to younger employees than to older ones. This does not mean that experienced employees are not open to Flex Office, but rather that they will need different support.
To compensate for the loss of the personal office, which for them has long been synonymous with hierarchical reward, a company must invest intelligently in Smart Office solutions. Indeed, this generation will be extremely sensitive to the experience. Without going into luxury, a minimum of quality is therefore necessary in the equipment and solutions so that they are not perceived as gadgets or mere cosmetics.
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