In recent years, “workplace experience” has become a key concern for businesses, informing how spaces, technology and office culture directly impact employees. The workplace no longer has to serve merely as a functional, utilitarian place to get things done; it can be a space dedicated to the achievement of peak productivity and employee collaboration. However, these aspects are only a portion of what makes up a comprehensive and successful workplace experience.
So what is the workplace experience anyway?
Does the Workplace Experience Work for You?
Workplace experience is a culmination of everything that impacts your working life: the people and culture you engage with daily, the technology you use to be productive, the physical space where you do your work—it all aligns to deliver something tangible and unique. These core components should act in concert to deliver value to both employer and employee, with employees hopefully receiving a better, more engaging workday while employers gain a streamlined space and the cultural benefits of having content and inspired employees.
In a recent post, I covered how employees who can be authentic at work self-reported a stronger sense of community and an overall reduction in stress. This emphasis on a positive, authenticity-focused culture—one that supports employees and strives to provide well-being—is just one component in cultivating a meaningful workplace experience. The other aspects include the technology offered—everything from chat platforms to software to a strong WiFi connection—tied together with every individual interaction an employee has with the physical space.
Although there isn’t much data available around “workplace experience” specifically, scientists have spent years trying to understand how people engage and interact with their environments. The information they’ve uncovered provides a blueprint for companies to deliver a meaningful experience and better understand how their people utilize available resources.
Making an Impression
Much of our understanding of experience comes from studying consumer behavior. For decades, researchers have examined how experiences—in the consumer context, something memorable or remarkable in how a service is delivered—affect individuals at their emotional and intellectual cores. People aren't simply buying a product or service; they're having an emotional response to an interaction. This response informs all future exchanges with a service provider, creating an opportunity for either ongoing engagement or disappointment. The consumer experience is complex, not only impacting people's conscious thoughts and behaviors, but also their subconscious reactions.
While the needs of employees and consumers differ, the way people experience their work environment is similar, in that we all have subconscious emotional responses to events, places and things. This, coupled with individual personality, preference and personal history, informs how people react to their workplace. As a result, employers should consider the emotional responses their environment and culture elicit, whether their employees feel cared for or understood, whether employees feel they can depend on this experience to meet their needs, what kind of overall sensory experience the physical space delivers and how the workplace evolves to meet changing expectations. Although they may seem somewhat abstract, these factors directly contribute not only to employee performance, but also retention and contentment, making them key considerations for businesses looking to create an ideal experience for their team.
The "Experience" Impact
Having dubbed the 2020s as the "decade of experience," Forbes argues that in the coming years, leaders must "constantly push the limits of innovation and collaboration to ensure they're driving experience transformations across the business." Arguments for experience-based environments were strengthened by how quickly many businesses shifted their approach to work as the pandemic raged, in addition to how employees responded positively to this new way of working. As we now know, many employees prefer the flexibility offered by hybrid work and most high-growth companies have shifted to hybrid models.
Thanks to this major adjustment, employers have a rare opportunity to oversee a holistic change in how their organization impacts worker contentment, and how that contentment drives positive outcomes. With an uptick in hybrid work models and distributed teams, boosting communication and giving employees opportunities to provide feedback is a must. If companies keep an open dialogue with their people and ensure they get clear directions, consistent information and opportunities to share their opinions, leaders can begin the process of delivering an environment where workers are engaged and feel supported in their roles. Through intentionally curated spaces coupled with an understanding of what employees need and how to achieve it, a strong workplace experience can improve people’s day-to-day lives in tangible, measurable ways. Overall, by striving for a happier workforce, reliable workplace technology and a people-focused culture, employers can remain prepared for a dynamic and unpredictable future.
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