When creating the future of work within an organization, workplace strategists and leaders have no shortage of tasks and obstacles they need to address. Not only are workplace leaders responsible for designing the physical office spaces to support hybrid work, but they also have to ensure the workplace provides an experience that makes employees feel connected to the larger organization. In short, workplace leaders today need to defend the physical office and its benefits by telling its story in a way that will excite employees and make them want to come into the office.
The Need for a Better Workplace Story
The need to tell a better workplace story is just one challenge for enterprise leaders, Kay Sargent, senior principal and director of workplace for HOK, said during a panel discussion at the CoreNet Global Summit earlier this month. Sargent also shared her thoughts on obstacles including the erosion of social capital and uneven hybrid work policies that create HR issues. Despite all the changes we’ve seen in the office in the past several years, Sargent argued that now is the time for leadership to really step up and talk differently about today’s workplace.
"Part of the problem is we're not telling a good story,” said Sargent, who used an analogy to encourage the audience to highlight the potential down sides of remote work: “We're not telling people the consequences of eating chocolate for dinner every night — because there is one — and [similarly] we're not telling them the benefit of coming to the workplace," Sargent said. "So, as we go forward, there's some shifts that we need to make; we really need to think about the purpose of place."
A crucial part of telling a better workplace story is finding ways to “help people connect and bond and build back social capital” in the workplace, Sargent said. When employees who have been in the workforce for a while started working from home during the pandemic, they had a lot of social capital built up, Sargent explained. However, younger employees, who don’t have professional networks, are now finding that remote work isn’t quite working out, Sargent added.