The needs of employees have changed in the last 18-months with a greater onus on quality of life and a better work life balance. Encouraging people back to a centralised workplace function, whether it’s mandatory or a matter of choice, needs to be carefully calculated as lockdown is loosened. Just as Eve tempted Adam with the apple, businesses are now tempting their employees back with wellness initiatives and other green stimuli to kick start the workplace and ignite interaction. Workplaces need to be better than ever, and they need to reflect an organisation’s values towards the environment too, something we’re all more aware of as a result of the pandemic.
Pre-COVID organisations tried to assert their purpose and responsibilities to their employees and stakeholders – CSR. Post-COVID clarity of purpose and the impact on the planet and its people matters like never before – CSR got amped to ESG: Environment, Social and Governance.
The return to Workplace2.0 sees every aspect of the client’s business under scrutiny from; how the teams are treated and its reputation as an employer, the supply chain and data management to the organisation’s environmental credentials. Add in the UK Government’s announcement to be Net Zero by 2050 and many businesses have already set their own ambitious targets to tackle climate change.
Access to outdoor space, whether a roof terrace or winter garden, and the use of natural ventilation is no longer a fad it’s nigh on mandatory to attract the best talent. Green design is here to stay as it helps create a healthier space for employees, increases productivity, underlines corporate reputation and demonstrates a conscience towards the planet. Of course, more markedly, more sustainable.
Over the past year many of London’s offices have been re-configured to enable social distancing and to encourage people back by heightening employee experience and the benefits of the in-person culture.
It’s not solely design where major impacts are being felt as companies put the spotlight back on in the workplace. Food, drink and even cleaning are an increasingly significant part of the buildings management programme. From working with the regional supply chain, using seasonal produce and careful consideration of what’s provided on menus and how waste can be eliminated. Cleaning products are also under scrutiny; how they are disposed of and the toxic impact they may have on the soil and groundwater.
How the return to work will fare is still to be seen. A recent survey by People Management highlights that 43% of respondents are planning to keep their office spaces but change their usage by making them more collaborative and having fewer fixed desks. Without doubt progressive employers and workplaces need to achieve a space akin to a community hub backed by world class hospitality while also offering quiet spaces for working in.
Drawing on the environmental and societal beliefs of the organisation, the new face of work is a tempting destination that enables productivity but will also act as a recruitment and retention tool: a place to turn the competitor set green with envy.
Anthony is co-founder of Bennett Hay, a workplace management company operating in many of the capital's landmark of office spaces. Bennett Hay celebrates its 10th birthday this year and is recognised as one of the Best Places to Work in Hospitality.