How to make your workplace fit for purpose in 2021.

It goes without saying that the world of work has changed immensely since the start of 2020. Not only have employers realised that their teams can work productively from the comfort of their own homes, but employees have realised the benefits that can come from having more flexibility in where they work. Therefore, it seems very unlikely that organisations are going to revert back to the same office set up as was previously the norm.

In fact, according to Randstad’s latest research, although 78% of people polled wanted to return to the workplace, 56% said they now enjoy a hybrid working environment where they are in charge of choosing their workplace.

What do workers want?

With this in mind, many organisations are already starting to think of ways they can adapt their offices to better suit the needs of employees. At Randstad, we recently surveyed over 8,000 of our own workers across multiple industries to find out their opinions on multiple aspects of the modern workplace. Some key points that came to light were:

  1. Workers want more well-being support
  2. Our employees need structure and routine
  3. Flexibility in work location is key
  4. Employees want support with maintaining their physical health

54% want stress reduction workshops.

One key theme that came out of our research was that employees want more support with their well-being at work. Of those surveyed:

54% want stress reduction workshops

49% want a well-being champion

48% want mindfulness classes

43% want meditation sessions

With this in mind, a quick win for employers could be to implement and drive a company well-being programme. Some ideas that could be considered are:

  • Coffee and catch up drop in meetings
  • Keeping lunchtimes clear of meetings
  • Setting up yoga classes
  • Introducing regular training sessions around resilience and stress management
  • Set up forums for managers to discuss issues affecting their teams
  • Introducing walking meetings

At Randstad, one initiative we set up to support our parents and their families was a two week story-telling event for children, which took place over Zoom. They were aimed at children under 10 and were a 45 minute interactive event where children could get involved in dancing, singing and a lot of fun games, whilst giving their parents some breathing time!

Bring back routine.

According to our survey, before the pandemic, 72% of workers would describe their work-life balance as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. However, this has dropped to 64% at the time of surveying (March 2021). This 8% decrease suggests that one thing that employees are really missing from the office life is the sense of routine it brings - 27% of respondents also said that they are working 5 or more hours of overtime a week now. 

Whilst the return to the office should support some in recalibrating their balance, it is important to consider those who are still working from home either some or all of the time. How can employers support those employees to maintain a healthy work life balance? 

Some suggestions are:

  • No virtual meetings around lunchtime to allow employees to take a full break
  • Setting clear expectations around start and finish times where possible
  • Regularly checking in with employees to ensure their workload is reasonable 
  • Supporting employees in creating a working from home schedule
  • Allowing employees to finish earlier or start later to make up for when they may have worked additional hours

Don’t forget the flex.

Despite the desire for routine, it is clear that employees still want flexibility when they are back in the office. As mentioned previously, over half of employees surveyed enjoy a hybrid working schedule. With this in mind, it is key to speak to your workers and introduce a work pattern that suits both you and them. This will ensure that productivity and well-being levels remain as high as possible.

Let’s get physical.

When asked how their employers could support with their physical health, 29% of workers wanted convenient fitness classes at work, whilst 28% wanted healthier eating options on offer. 

These are two key areas that employers could focus on to adjust the culture of their workplace. Although setting up fitness classes may not be possible for all organisations, employers can encourage walking meetings, or could allow some flexibility in employees’ work schedules so they can attend other fitness classes. 

Although not all organisations will have their own canteens, where they do, small tweaks to the menu could have a huge positive impact on employees. Alternatively, employers could share healthy meal and snack ideas with teams regularly, or partner with local businesses to provide discounts on healthier meal choices for employees.

It is clear that whether employees are returning to the office full time, part time, or not at all, there are lots of simple ways that employers can work to improve the work life of their teams.