It’s been a full year since the pandemic upended the business universe. As companies re-emerge in 2021, the best business leaders will build on the lessons learned in 2020 by revolutionizing operating models, practices, and performance. Rather than returning to business as usual, forward-thinking leadership teams can seize this extraordinary opportunity to reimagine potential and make substantive changes to workforce strategy. It’s time to capitalize on this turning point to reset how work gets done and emerge better.
The Path Forward for Business Leadership
The past year of extremes propelled new behaviors, lifestyles, and work models. It accelerated existing trends and triggered new ones. In 2021, companies are deciding how to return to work. Leaders must set strategies now to capture lessons learned during the great pandemic disruption and accelerate growth and productivity.
5 Strategies to Accelerate Post-Pandemic Performance
1. Balance digital transformation with human connection.
The pandemic brought about years’ worth of digital transformation in a matter of weeks. Widespread development and adoption of digital platforms reshaped how teams meet and collaborate. Great enterprises will continue to leverage digital innovations to collaborate, communicate, and better serve customers. However, widespread digital fatigue will require leaders to balance technological innovation with essential human interaction that builds healthy connections and cultures.
2. Offer employees flexibility and proximity.
Work-from-home employees have embraced the absence of a commute. Some channel the time into more work hours. Others enjoy more leisure and fitness activities, family time, outdoor experiences, and other contributions to a better work-life balance. Successful leaders will test and establish policies that allow some continued flexibility in work location and hours, while still ensuring business continuity and productivity. They also will consider moving or establishing offices close to talent clusters and transit. Workplace locations that satisfy preferences for sustainable lifestyles among millennial and Gen Z employees who make up 75% of the workforce will ultimately win the war for talent. Hub-and-spoke office models are emerging to accommodate this trend.
3. Focus on talent, culture, and engagement.
During the pandemic, employees were suddenly working remotely and communicating digitally in an environment of uncertainty and fear. The need for human connection, reassurance, and authenticity became apparent. Many CEOs saw a new level of “being human” across their organizations, and they recognized their roles in cultivating trust and engagement to build confidence and community. The best leaders will focus on sustaining new levels of authentic human connection to strengthen relationships, loyalty, culture, and business performance.
4. Establish a healthy workplace.
The pandemic spotlighted opportunities to make office environments healthier. Fresh air ventilation, high-capacity filters to capture pathogens and pollutants, improved cleaning protocols, sensible distancing measures, and enforced requirements for sick employees to stay home make workplaces significantly healthier. Continued and accelerated workplace wellness measures will reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and support overall physical and mental health.
5. Make the office a vital destination.
Despite the appeal of flexible work-from-anywhere policies, the physical workplace remains a vital destination for innovating, problem-solving, learning, collaborating, mentoring, onboarding, and, perhaps most importantly, relationship building. Many CEOs say that while day-to-day productivity stabilized during the pandemic, innovation and progress were stifled. Managers found it hard to check in on employees without regular in-person contact, and many employees found it challenging to stay motivated at home. Leaders must create work environments that make people want to return to the office and help them feel and work their best while there.
Checklist for Leaders
The new work model requires a new workplace. To become the central hub for engagement and productivity, the new office environment must emphasize the human experience. It must be a vibrant destination that is curated to deliver a better experience than working from home. It must be designed to reflect a company’s commitment to employee safety, comfort, connections, performance, and well-being.
How? Deliver workplace features proven to increase employee health and performance. To create the next great office environment, leaders can use the following checklist to optimize the post-pandemic experience and productivity:
- Less density and more flexible spaces for collaboration, individual work, and social connection
- Access to outdoor green spaces and work areas
- Large windows to provide natural light and scenic views
- Proximity to amenities that encourage physical movement, such as walking trails and bike paths
- Walkable neighborhoods with a variety of restaurant and retail amenities
- Plentiful healthy food options
- Beautiful building design and materials
- A central location, easily accessed by a short commute, convenient roads and transit for largest talent pool
- Safe, clean indoor air
- Temperature controls
- Dependable safety and security
Even before the pandemic, tech giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft designed corporate campuses to attract, retain, engage, and inspire the best professional talent. In their book, Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, Joe Allen and John Macomber suggest, “No organization is more adept than Google at creating a brilliant workplace culture that continues to attract talent and produce outstanding innovations year after year. It turns out that the ‘secret sauce’ at Google is a focus on…people.” As a result, Google isn’t just a tech leader, it’s also an expert on human performance. Recent research from Harvard’s T.C. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Business School document the effects of workplace conditions on cognition, well-being, and human performance. Additional analysis shows a 10x ROI from healthy workplaces, providing a direct link between work environments and financial performance.
The Workplace Revolution
Organizations don’t need Google’s resources to build extraordinary workplaces. The demand for accessible and dynamic work environments is focusing attention on unique office locations that bring workplace health, balance, and productivity to the forefront.
One such location is Seven Tower Bridge, a brand new 14-story glass office tower at the heart of the Philadelphia region. This building delivers the accessible, transit-oriented location, indoor and outdoor amenities, walkable neighborhood, and state-of-the-art quality and technology that create the ultimate package for attracting, retaining, and inspiring the best professional talent. Take a virtual tour of the new workplace model here.
The challenges of the past year have been immense, yet they have created extraordinary opportunities to emerge better. Great leaders are leveraging the lessons of the pandemic disruption to redefine and realign relationships with the workforce and the workplace. The most successful companies will emerge with a better, healthier, more engaged and more productive workforce driving stronger enterprise growth and profitability.
Visit www.seventowerbridge.com to learn more about the office designed for the future of work. Developed by Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation and American Real Estate Partners, Seven Tower Bridge will open in May 2021, bringing 260,000 square feet of trophy riverfront office space to Conshohocken, a sought-after commercial and residential hub 13 miles outside Philadelphia. Hamilton Lane, a leading private markets investment management firm, has leased 130,000 square feet in Seven Tower Bridge for its new global headquarters. Contact Esther Pulver or Ken Kearns for leasing information.