Why of the office – and how to make the data work: In the last few years, workplace leaders all over the world have been tasked with more challenges than ever before, and all are searching for new answers to these challenges. A renewed need for congregating in a community of like-minded professionals is very clearly felt across the industry.
While there are dozens of industry conferences and events available to workplace leaders to meet, exchange and learn, these opportunities are often a mixture of both genuine exchange, and representation. All participants must show themselves in the best light possible and promote their work and the company they represent.
At Locatee, we thought that it would be beneficial to our community, to organize a different kind of event – behind closed doors, where no representation is required, and where one can openly express their challenges and statuses.
We organized such a meeting last October, in Basel, at a customer’s campus, and invited select members of our Locatee community to exchange on their current situations regarding their place in their organizations, return to office, technology and data. Here are the takeaways from these discussions:
The “why” of the office
After a number of years of work from home mandates, and establishing policies, and testing various models – office presence models, seating models and so on – we are still discussing something at the heart of everything we do: why the office exactly?
Our participants offered many opinions on the matter: the office creates a sense of community and connection across the organization; the office is the go-to place for collaboration and socialization;
As such, we were given food for thought when a lecturer proposed that, since the office’s purpose is defined by creating more opportunities for personal interactions (that’s the common denominator between community, connections, socialization, collaboration), one role for workplace leaders in that, is to manufacture density.
By shutting down floors, it would naturally cause people to be less separated. This doesn’t necessarily mean putting everyone in a single floor, but simply reducing the accessible space in a safe way, and still maintaining the types of space that are needed for everyone to work their best.
That way, the office is really playing its part.
New ways of working
Our discussions addressed the working models that have been rapidly under the microscope, with hybrid working accentuating the need for new solutions. Our experts reviewed concepts such as Activity-based working and challenged that concept. ABW is centering the office’s purpose around specific activities.
However, the previous discussions established that the true purpose of the office is not only in specific activities but also “in between”. Therefore, ABW may not be the right model, also when looking at the office through the prism of inclusion and mental health support.
What remains is the observation that, with the pandemic, average corporate networks of people have drastically shrunk by 50%; a challenge for workplace leaders is to ensure that these networks return to previous levels in a hybrid world. ABW may actually contribute to reducing these.
Data driven workplaces
Throughout these discussions, the need to support decisions and initiatives with data – and the challenges to have the right data – was ubiquitous:
- Experimenting (small and fast) to learn new ways of working;
- Data is key to:
- Apprehend the challenges and evolutions
- Communicate the reasoning behind decisions / solutions
- Understanding data quality requirements;
- Getting IT on the side of real estate – it is much more likely for IT to understand enough about real estate to support, than for real estate to be able to lead IT things.
We were extremely thankful to our guests for the lively and qualitative discussions as well as for the overwhelmingly positive feedback received. Stay tuned for new editions of Locatee’s community events!