Workspaces currently on offer are “largely not up to scratch for the post-pandemic workforce”, according to research by employee workplace experience assessor Leesman.
The report, ‘Workplace 2021: Appraising Future Readiness’, published this week, calls into question the extent to which Covid-19 has reshaped and evolved real estate and reveals how a series of simple tests can determine just how primed an organisation is for its post-pandemic workplace future.
Through a checklist devised from the data of more than 800,000 office-based employee responses, assessed over the past 11 years and more than 160,000 home working experiences assessed since the onset of the pandemic, Leesman believes individual businesses can “test their future-readiness”.
The answers to the checks help to guide leaders to where focus is most needed, according to Leesman. It also shows them “where the greatest opportunities exist and where weaknesses in legacy systems threaten to destabilise any sense of a new normality being better than before”.
The research was led by Leesman’s chief insights and research officer, Dr Peggie Rothe, and is sectioned into three groups: people, place and time.
For the first, Leesman argues that businesses need to ask themselves if “they’ve already defined the role workplace plays in supporting their wider organisational and individual employee purpose”. This means being able to “communicate the specific outcomes workplaces are there to support at a granular level”. Leesman says: “Their debate around future operating models stems from these definitions, putting people before place.”
When it comes to ‘place’ Leesman says the findings uncover “an alarming fact: the average space designed for living supports the average employee better than the average space designed for working”. Leesman thinks that future-ready organisations understand "it’s not merely what a space looks like, but how it works, that truly matters and makes a difference to organisational performance". Any post-pandemic workplace has to work better than employees’ own homes, or employees simply won’t return, says the report.
When it comes to 'time', employees have spent the last 12 months adapting and repurposing their homes into effective work environments. Some are keen to return, some not, says the Leesman report. It contends that the right leadership is about "turning to real estate and workplace to stay ahead of the game" and that "future-ready organisations have acknowledged the lessons learned and are repurposing their existing workplaces for a new fluid, video-first workstyle".
Tim Oldman, CEO and founder of Leesman has said: “The future will not wait for businesses to catch up or sit around while decision-making paralysis reaches new heights. It’s time for real estate and workplace teams to ask themselves what they’ve done the last 12 months, while employees have been adapting to their home environments and bedding themselves into new workstyles and behaviours. If the answer is nothing, then frankly employees will continue to want to work from home. If they’re actively creating a better space for them to come back to, then they will.”