In the midst of social change, organizations are rethinking traditional business models to drive workplace change through employee engagement.
Workplaces are about what organizations do today—and with advanced planning, what they do tomorrow, next month, and next year.
Most companies realize they cannot remain static if they want to expand their market share and recruit new employees. Many external forces are transforming the workforce, and smart organizations recognize that embracing—and leading—change is key to their future success. How to successfully lead these transformations is a top question for many of our clients.
To understand the drivers, perceived barriers, leadership strategies for change, and resulting outcomes, our national workplace strategy group, WorkSIGHT, conducted a study of five national brands that recently underwent significant workplace transformations—a Fortune 100 Company, Financial Services Company A, Financial Services Company B, New Headquarters, and Fortune 10 Company.
The research was conducted through interviews of project team members and stakeholders, providing valuable takeaways from all companies across industries and market sizes.
The framework for this research process included:
- Starting place (Current state)
- Why change (Needs for change unique to each company)
- Challenges (Potential resistance to change)
- Project drivers (Factors that inspire change)
- The development process (Pre-design research tools specific to each company)
- What was included in the strategy (Conceptual change through design ideation)
- What made the transition successful (Success drivers)
- Space benchmark (Final workspace sizes/efficiencies)
By using a consistent framework to understand each organization’s journey, we uncovered consensus among the drivers and perceived challenges to transformation.
The desire to recruit and retain top talent and the influence of technology were dominant themes. In fact, recruitment and retention was a top priority for most companies in this and a related study, National Workplace Forecast: Talent, Experiences, and Constant Change, conducted by WorkSIGHT.
As participants explored project drivers, specific human-centric themes became apparent, including building a workplace that fosters:
- Connections, community, and employee engagement through brand alignment—considered essential to knowledge exchange and innovation.
- Choice, flexibility, and collaboration—further suggesting how workplace design can promote employee engagement (diagram above).
Finally, the research revealed another simple fact regarding perceived challenges:
- Change is hard, and resistance is typically the first response—even with the best of intentions.
With so much in common, you would think there would be a prescribed path for transformation, right?
Yet differences emerged when we studied the process for development and keys to success. Where most participants engaged in some sort of change leadership—either integrated into the design process or as a separate focus—the timing, methods, and tools varied.
Despite the companies’ different approaches, the research revealed a shared awareness to proactively address a fast-changing marketplace. By creating workplaces that encourage continuous change through employee engagement, companies can inspire innovation that drives—rather than reacts to—change.
If you are just beginning your journey, this can feel daunting. Take heart, you are not alone, it can be done.