THE BLOG
06/05/2014 05:38 pm ET Updated Aug 05, 2014

Thrive Through the Workplace Experience

TommL via Getty Images

The working environment can either stimulate and sustain people's energy or drain it. Most people think of work as "somewhere they have to go to"; the same place every day, often sitting at the same desk for the majority of their waking hours, undertaking various asks (on autopilot) waiting for work to finish so they can get back to their life.

According to a recent U.S. Gallup poll, 70 percent of American workers, are "not engaged," are just going through the motions or are "actively disengaged," hate going to work and undermine their companies with their attitude...

Over the last 10 years, technology has given us choices of where and how to access information and be connected and has enabled a shift from work being "somewhere you go" to work being "something you do" anytime, anyplace.

Whilst this enablement increases flexibility, it also brings increased working hours and information overload as people are lost in their devices 24/7 with little awareness of the surrounding environment. The results in the workplace are people that are both disengaged and distracted. Some companies try to ban access to social media to manage distractions but the message they give is lack of trust which further increases disengagement.

In this new increasingly paradoxical world, helping companies to design the infrastructure to support and enable engagement in the workplace is at the core of helping them to be productive. The current focus of work is on supporting knowledge workers. The core of knowledge work is non-routine problem solving which requires an integrated approach that includes spatial, technological and managerial issues. Even though technology enables much of knowledge work to be performed anywhere and anytime, the role of the office is still very relevant but needs to be redefined.

The workplace environment gives constant messages that impact the culture of an organization:

Old Messages
  • You need to be at your desk looking busy to be working Lack of trust
  • Telling people what we stand for, values expressed in words
  • One size fits all
  • Focus on cutting costs
New Messages
  • We'll support you to work where you work best
  • Empowering and trusting people
  • Values expressed by actions
  • Rewarding effective behaviors
  • Choice and flexibility
  • Focus on adding value

As work becomes increasingly multilayered, the office environment can no longer be only made up of rows of desks and formal meeting rooms but actually requires a rich variety of work settings. We perform at our best when we move, spend time outside getting daylight and alternate between different physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states. Employees must be able to access appropriate work settings and technology for the tasks they want to achieve during a workday; giving the possibility to work in solitude, social spaces or group spaces -- according to the task at hand. These will change over the course of the day and will also change to reflect different types of users and evolve in response to feedback.

In the quest to differentiate, the workplace experience is now the new trend. Organizations are redesigning their workplaces to look "cool," innovative, colorful etc... as well as providing programs of wellness ; fitness, meditation etc and greater technology enablement through wifi and BYOD programs. However, these are usually all undertaken as separate initiatives and usually delivered through different parts of the organization HR -- wellness, RE - space and IT - technology, yet they all impact the overall workplace experience.

An effective workplace experience requires the corporate mind, body and spirit, working in harmony so the workplace can become a liberated environment where employees can choose how and where they work to thrive.

Mind -- Management vision and practices (purpose and empowerment)
Body -- Space, technology and services (choice and control)
Spirit -- Culture and values (performance and wellness)