7 ways to define your workplace strategy in the post-COVID era

A clearly defined workplace strategy is good for your company culture and operating budget. 

But the pandemic has reshaped how we all define our workplace strategies. 1 in 3 employees now wants the flexibility to choose where they work. In response,  74% of U.S. companies plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model.

“Hybrid work represents the biggest shift to how we work in our generation.”

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

And yet, while 75% of executives believe they operate a flexible working culture, only 57% of employees believe their organizations embrace flexible working.

That disconnect between leadership perceptions and employee experiences can cause long-term damage to your company. Employees may feel less engaged. You may end up paying for space you don’t need. 

Creating a clearly defined strategy for this new era is among the most important goals of every workplace strategist. 

Below are 7 ways you can define your workplace strategy for the post-COVID era.

1. Know your business objectives

Knowing your business objectives is critical when defining an effective workplace strategy. 

What are your team’s (and company’s) current priorities? What do you anticipate your future priorities will be? 

Consider what’s required to achieve those goals, and turn them into high-level, actionable objectives for your team. Strategic planning on this level makes it easier to ensure you’re focused on how to reduce costs and boost your bottom line while simultaneously improving employee retention and the workplace experience.

2. Understand your workplace

Before you look at changing things, get an unbiased understanding of how everything currently works. Keep in mind that how you assume things are working isn’t always the same as reality.

When possible, dig into data. Measure the behaviors of people using your space. What are employees doing now that you didn’t anticipate?

Why are they doing that? 

Below are key areas to factor in to understand the current state of your workplace: 

  • Workplace utilization: Are people using your office space as anticipated? What is your average occupancy rate now that offices are re-opened? What percentage of your allocated working areas (desks, conference rooms, meeting areas) are being utilized? How much space is unused or vacant?
  • Operational costs: How much are you paying per square foot? Per employee? What are your total workplace costs? How do they compare to your revenue? Where can you create cost savings?
  • Workplace revenue: Is there potential in your corporate real estate portfolio to generate monthly revenue from events, tenants, etc?
  • Facilities management: Are you satisfied with the tools and services supporting the safety, functionality, and sustainability of infrastructure, buildings, real estate, and grounds? Where is there room for improvement or cost savings?
  • Employee satisfaction: How do your workers feel about their current workspace? How good is your employee engagement? Do you have outstanding maintenance issues? Are there technology gaps that need addressing? When problems are raised, are they swiftly addressed?
  • Energy efficiency: Are your workplaces energy-efficient? Are you drawing your energy from renewable sources?

3. Embrace tech 

Technological innovation is the future of work. VR, spatial chat apps, smart buildings, and AI are innovating and reshaping how we work.

Remote and hybrid teams rely heavily on digital technology. Adapting to the latest tech innovations ensures you’re keeping pace with the competition. It also creates an appealing company culture to attract top talent, while allowing you to improve operations and further initiatives. 

A 2022 study we conducted of 1,000 employees found that most workers are willing to embrace new tech in the workplace. But beware – most are adamant about protecting their privacy. 

4. Seek feedback

Survey your team and find out exactly how they would prefer to work. For example, they can tell you how many days they’d ideally like to be in the office each week. Seeking employee feedback will give you ideas on how to create better employee experiences, and empowers your employees to have a voice in how they work. 

5. Redefine your culture

While the need to work remotely forced companies to rapidly adapt to new ways of working, most teams were not built for it. With the return to the office seeing the widespread adoption of hybrid work, it’s time to create a hybrid company culture that encourages and empowers your team with a positive workplace experience, regardless of where they’re working. 

6. Document

Your strategy is a roadmap for achieving your objectives. Creating a specific written record that clearly outlines and documents your planned approach is essential.

Your strategy should outline the approach you intend to take to reach each of your objectives. It should list out your priorities and rationale for your choices. 

Be as specific as you can in your answers. The better you articulate your plans, the more efficiently your team will adapt to the new strategy, and it will be more successful. 

7. Get alignment

Roll your new strategy out to executives and stakeholders before you share it with your team. Their input and critique can be precious. Then, once you’ve perfected it, disseminate it. Your people can’t work to your plan if they don’t have it. You need your whole team on the same page and pulling in the same direction, so be direct and ensure everyone is fully aware of it. 

Make sure you present your strategy in an easily accessible place, in a format that’s clear, concise, and easily understood. 

Hold a company-wide team meeting, and allow everyone to digest the news and discuss future possibilities. The more excited they get at the potential of your plan, the greater their efforts to realize it will be. 

Finally: Keep iterating

Perhaps the most significant takeaway from the pandemic is how rapidly everything can shift. We never anticipated a near-global shutdown that forced most businesses to work remotely. Once it happened, many failed to foresee that we would never be returning to business as usual. The social and economic implications of the pandemic are far-reaching and here to stay. 

We’re creating a new normal, but anybody’s guess is how long it will last. Your workplace strategy should be agile so it can adapt to changing times. Read more about how to create an agile workplace here.