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What is a Workplace Strategy?

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What is a workplace strategy?

A workplace strategy is a plan that helps your business organise and manage its workforce and the places they work from in order to achieve your business goals. The objective of your strategy is to create a working environment that is conducive to productivity, collaboration and the well-being of your people.

An effective strategy typically includes a plan governing your office real estate and any associated on-site amenities (café or canteen, social workspace, child care facilities, fitness centre etc.) and your policy on remote and hybrid working.

Remote working arrangements allow employees to work from home or from other locations away from your company premises. Hybrid models combine work performed at company facilities with some level of permitted remote working. A well-designed workplace strategy will enable you to attract and retain talent, improve employee satisfaction and maximise company performance.

Is there a best practice approach to a workplace strategy?

In simple terms, a workplace strategy is a set of guiding principles which help your organisation decide how best to use available space to provide sufficient capacity for staff working in the office whilst controlling real estate overheads. It also includes policies and procedures governing any remote or hybrid working practices you have in place.

It takes into account the availability and cost of real estate, the range of functions in your business, the nature of the work you do, staff wellbeing and productivity, remote / hybrid working arrangements, staff retention and attracting the best talent. The goal is to create workspaces that are ergonomically healthy, properly equipped and designed to foster team collaboration and an efficient flow of work.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy – your strategy is unique to your organisation; it needs to be tailored to the way your company functions, it’s inputs, outputs and the specific tools and processes it uses to ensure optimum staff performance.

However, there are components common to a well-designed workplace and a healthy, high performing workforce. The journey to create the right workplace strategy for your business begins with an objective assessment of your current environment and working practices and their impact on productivity and wellbeing. These insights will help you identify opportunities for improvement.

Employee Pulse Surveys are a good way to obtain anonymised feedback and to identify any health and / or performance problems and any brewing issues – so action can be taken to resolve them before they impact the business. With the reduction in ‘dedicated’ offices, the need for collaboration space and for quiet areas for focused work, is increasing.

Ultimately, a fit-for-purpose strategy creates workspaces and incorporates working policies and practices that are flexible enough to accommodate new ways of working and handle new business pressures, whilst promoting worker performance and wellbeing.

Does a workplace strategy take into account remote and hybrid working?

A workplace strategy takes into account all factors impacting the performance and wellbeing of your employees and achievement of your business objectives, that relate to ‘the Workplace‘.

Working from home has increased significantly in recent years – but it is not practical or beneficial for all businesses. Some organisations need employees to work from company premises for access to machinery or specialist facilities or to enable creativity and effective collaboration on key projects. Other companies allow their employees to work from home on a case-by-case / periodic basis depending on the work they are doing or the function they perform. The most important thing is that your workplace strategy must align with, and support achievement of, your organisation’s business goals.

Your working environments are a key consideration in any workplace strategy. The goal is to create policies and spaces that are conducive to productivity and creativity while also providing employees with the tools and support they need to do their jobs well. Your Workplace policies, the layout of your space, the type and function of furniture and your choice of technology all play a role in how effectively your office space enables healthy productivity.

By considering and accommodating each of these factors, you can craft a workplace strategy aligned with the particular needs of your business – no matter how unique or specialised.

Which department within our organisation should be in charge of our Workplace strategy?

This is an interesting question!  A Workplace strategy is a critical tool for any organisation that wants to stay competitive and attract top talent. But the components involve numerous functions and facets of a business from HR to IT to Facilities.

Ultimately, it comes down to understanding the goals of the organisation and aligning them with your people assets and what they need in order to perform. HR are the custodians of an organisation’s people – a business and mission critical resource. They manage the recruitment process, front negotiations around package and benefits, handle contractual onboarding, ensure compliance with policy, help resolve disputes and provide governance for a wide range of policies and procedures. However, they rarely ‘set’ commercial policy relating to the operation of an organisation – these are typically designed and agreed by the Board and then implemented by functional leads such as the Head of Operations or the Sales / Marketing Director, according to the nature of the policy.

Given its scope, a Workplace Strategy should be owned by your board with each component (e.g., office facilities, tools and systems, policies and procedures etc.) then assigned to line management to implement and govern.

For example, if one objective of your strategy is creation of a more collaborative working environment, then your Facilities Department may be best suited to handle that aspect of your Workplace Strategy. If a key goal is to improve employee productivity, then HR may best placed to roll out necessary changes to working procedures and / or policies. The important thing is to make sure that a Workplace Strategy is developed with input from all stakeholders and that it makes allowances for the difference between the way different functions operate and the things they need in order to do so efficiently.

The active involvement and role of your line managers is key – a ‘strategy’ is a plan with a defined set of objectives – but it does not include detail about how these are achieved in practice. Line managers typically work at the coal face and have to handle operational realities and challenges which arise daily. They should be given a level of discretion regarding how policies are applied in their domain to ensure they can flex the way they and their teams operate in order to deliver against their mandate – in support of your organisation’s objectives.

The Board is the designer and sponsor behind your Workplace Strategy, your functional heads and line managers are your supporting sponsors and your staff are the ultimate targets you want to embrace and enact your strategy!

Video text transcript (excluding videos and images):

What is a Workplace Strategy?

Hello and thank you for joining me today. I’m Grant Price from YOHO and I’m here to answer your … ‘Question of Work’. Today’s is from Robert, who asks a fundamental question: “What is a workplace strategy?” Well Robert it’s not that complicated. But it is a new way of looking at work. Deloitte nicely captured the answer ….The change started a while back …. but the pandemic gave it a MAJOR jolt. YOHO’s research uncovered that companies are improving their real estate returns by as much as 50 per cent – by flexing the way they use their office space. And mobile technology now enables access and collaboration anytime – from anywhere.

Employees are enjoying greater flexibility to work where they want ……. and employers are being rewarded with greater productivity and access to a bigger talent pool But …. the option to work face-to-face remains vital – not least when forging new client relationships or collaborating on complex projects.

Forward thinking companies are investing in the latest innovations … artificial intelligence, data analytics and chatbots – to name but a few. Things are changing fast in the New Work Order – keeping ahead means staying abreast of change and reacting quickly to new risks and opportunities. At YOHO we’re experts in what makes an effective workplace strategy.

To learn more, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with me by clicking the link above.