Hybrid Report: The Workplace is a Tool
The workplace isn’t a simple machine
At the core of what I believe about the workplace is that it is a tool—one that organizations can deploy to achieve business goals. That’s pretty basic, but important because today’s conversation about when and where we work is anything but basic.
When I think about a tool, my mind wanders back to early school days and simple machines and classical examples that date back to ancient Greeks: the lever, pulley, screw, etc. A simple machine is defined as mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force. Here’s the deal, the workplace isn’t a simple machine; rather, it’s an incredibly complex one, built upon systems, technologies, culture and humans. Nothing simple about it. However, it is under pressure (by force you could say) to change direction.
We surveyed 1,000 hybrid workers across the nation to gain insight into their experiences, needs, and challenges and understand what went into their decision making when given the choice to work in-office or remotely. We didn’t set out to debate the future of flexible work or hybrid work policies but to understand what makes the workplace work for people. What makes it a good tool that they use when given the option to use it or not on a given day?
Two insights really piqued my interest. The first is that some things never change, a reason as old as time (as old as simple machines even). Location, location, location—for example.
83% of survey respondents said that it is either very important or extremely important to live near the office. Asked a different way later in the survey, the top driver for choosing to work remotely on a given day: commute time. The takeaway here is that one of the biggest office utilization decisions for organization’s might just be the location. The first hurdle to using the tool is making it convenient to access.
The second data point that struck me was at the opposite end of the spectrum. If the location decision is the most macro decision of the workplace design process, the most micro would be at the individual employee level. When ranking the drivers for working remotely or coming to the workplace, there was one item that made the top five of both lists: personal desk set up. Unpacking what makes a workplace a good tool when an employee arrives—the features that improve productivity, ease work, and are seamlessly, intuitive to their preferences—respondents identified the top office amenities in order of import as:
- functional office technology
- an effective IT help desk
- and parking! (surprising and not at the same time)
We asked what mattered most and time and time again, workers pointed to the things that make getting their jobs done effective and easy. The respondent consistently ranked attributes prioritizing their time and energy as the most important. It’s not that employees don’t appreciate recently trending amenities. In fact, the novelty of new office offerings is part of the attraction to any place. But, sometimes simple is better. Making work delightful first starts with providing purposeful utility that is easy and comfortable to use—the fundamental features that make a good tool in the first place.
Learn more about what hybrid employees want from their workplace inside the full Hybrid Report.