Focused on redesigning instead of just returning

As COVID-19 began making it’s way across state lines, KSMC realized that they needed to quickly rethink their entire employee experience while still delivering great work for our clients. 

This is an excerpt from a KSMC blog.

The question of what comes next is complex, because we employ a number of parents with school-aged children at KSMC who have a variety of different childcare and e-learning situations during this time of uncertainty. So we’ve started focusing less on “returning to work” and more on “redesigning of the way we work.” We’re now in a season of reevaluating how we need our physical space to serve us moving forward.

What seems most important to our employees is making sure that our space provides the flexibility and meeting spaces that people need, with less dedication to individual workspaces. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people aren’t just going to come to the office to work alone on their computers. They can do that in other ways and in different places. It’s the ability to collaborate safely that will get people back into the office.

As leaders begin reimagining what it looks like to work at their organizations in the future, I’d encourage them to do three things.

1. Involve employees in the process. It’s important to ask people what they need and how they work best before making a decision. The “start, stop, keep” line of questioning is a really healthy way to get feedback on what employees would change and what they’d prefer to stay the same.

2. Gather data. Along with qualitative employee feedback, consider gathering some quantitative data on how employees use office space. We’ve engaged DORIS Research for all of our physical office decisions, and their process has helped us understand how to create workspaces that meet our people’s needs.

3. View it as an opportunity to build something new. For us, stepping back and gaining some perspective has helped us see the pandemic as an opportunity to build the kind of company we want for the future. Organizations have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take agency and control over their future, instead of going back to a traditional office because that’s what everybody else is doing, or because that’s what they’ve done in the past.

Whatever your ultimate office restart decision may be, I highly recommend that you take steps to ensure that it is guided by empathy—for your people, clients, and community.

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