Designing For The New Normal: Creating Flex Space That Will Drive Employees Back To The Office
After more than a year of working from home, companies are eager to bring employees back to the office full time. Many CEOs believe that companies function best when employees can interact in person, and they want a chance to further develop their company culture and foster a sense of collaboration.
As a result, more businesses are turning to a hybrid model that has employees working remotely some days and in the office the others. This creates its own unique array of challenges: How can companies find the right office space to accommodate this new normal? How do they create a space that successfully accommodates a fluctuating number of people and gets employees excited about returning to the office?
“That’s why we look at office space from a hospitality perspective versus a conventional real estate perspective. It’s all about creating exceptional experiences people want to be a part of,” said Wendy Spreenberg, founder and president of YES! Your Exceptional Space. "Experience drives desire, and right now, it’s driving whether or not people want to return to the office.”
Working with clients across North America, YES! partners with landlords, architects, developers and business leaders to create flexible workplace environments, incredible employee experiences and solutions that benefit the bottom line. The YES! team is on hand from conception to the day doors open, handling everything from feasibility study to implementation, establishing the pricing of spaces and hot desks to the technology selection and coordination to the hiring and training of a hospitality team. YES! focuses on all the many amenities that transform a space into a positive and inspiring experience.
Flexible workspaces are top of mind for most employers right now because they position companies to lease as much or as little square footage needed in today’s unpredictable coronavirus pandemic world. Furthermore, flexible workspaces can be reconfigured easily and economically to solve for changing spatial and safety needs.
According to Spreenberg, creating the right flex space requires a focus on all the human senses. Her company’s tagline is "Create experience, not just space." The YES! team helps clients create memorable brands through their space, with an attention to every detail that impacts people's experience, from the scent and natural lighting they notice when they walk through the door to the music and white noise areas, to the comfort of an office chair and the ease and accessibility of technology and every other amenity.
The company was founded in 2001, and Spreenberg said that back then, the focus was mostly around creating spaces with executive suites and lots of individual offices. With the introduction of coworking, the focus shifted to open floor plans that fostered a much greater sense of collaboration and community in the workspace.
Now, Spreenberg said, companies are looking for a hybrid of the two models, with more individual offices and conference rooms yet still a significant amount of collaboration space. This way, workers have access to lots of natural light and ease of engagement with others in a café-style atmosphere while still having the option to do focused work in private areas as needed. These are the types of spaces Spreenberg and her team help their clients bring to life.
“The evolution has been really interesting,” Spreenberg said. “The difference and imprint we make in this landscape is that we personalize the office design and business operations and guide clients toward their vision and ensure it’s delivered.”
Looking ahead, Spreenberg said the future of flex space will go well beyond how many days a week people will be coming into the office. The focus will shift to exploring how companies and building owners can implement new, enticing office features that make it easier for employees with children to come to work, from daycare centers to after-school programs.
Additionally, safety and sanitization have become top concerns for employees, and they are not going away, she said. As a result, there needs to be more touchless technology in the office than ever before. Part of the employee experience that will keep workers coming back is knowing they will be walking into an environment where they can do their best work and feel comfortable and safe.
“Employees have immense influence right now over where they will be working,” Spreenberg said. “If employers and building owners want them to choose to be in the office, they need to go above and beyond to create a unique environment. We can help them do that.”
This article was produced in collaboration between YES! Your Exceptional Space and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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