Tim Reusch, who designs workplace concepts at Vitra, explains that the challenge, in fact, goes beyond an individual workplace to the entire culture of working. The pandemic has created plenty of volatility, and as operations resume, getting back to old habits feels like the safest thing to do.
That is exactly what organizations should avoid.
How fast are you able to react as an organization?
Reusch emphasizes that while this “survival of the fittest” game requires resilience and flexibility, it also creates opportunities to profit from disorder. In a world that changes fast and often in an unexpected way, workplace should be developed to a direction which helps crystallize its overall role, even purpose.
“We have researched the importance of physical and mental health and used the results in a way that pays more attention to issues such as ergonomics, lighting, quality of air, and movement of employees. There are so many aspects where we can simply learn from the nature and transform that into better workplace atmosphere.”
Another task of a modern workplace is related to employee engagement. If the old way of designing workplaces was about putting as many cubicles in a room as possible, today the most essential thing is to give people an experience of what they represent and work for.
“Space is a strong communicator of company culture”, Tim Reusch reminds. “It should help people understand why they show up at work every day.”
Establishing trust through emotional relationships
Reusch adds that at times when remote and hybrid work are gaining popularity, the visibility of people and their work is perhaps more essential than ever before. Everyone should be able to see and feel how they all contribute to the organization’s success – even if that would cause the workplace to be a bit messy at times.
From the innovation point of view, the workplace should allow and encourage people to fulfil their need of belonging and to feel a part of the community. They should be able to have coffee and not talk about work issues – but connect emotionally instead. That helps establish a culture of trust and a unique kind of togetherness people are proud to be a part of and eager to share.
The pandemic brought back the siloed way of working by creating models where the only regular contacts were between the immediate team members. For any organization to be successful, a much broader awareness of what is going on is required. Communicating that in a way that builds engagement and brings in results begins with taking a good look at the workplace.