Why ‘experience journeys’ are critical to a switch to hybrid work

This WORKTECH Briefing looks at the critical role of experience mapping in shaping the future of work and the debate behind UK civil servants being forced back to the office

Organisations around the world are currently at a crossroads as they announce their workplace strategies for the next six months and beyond. While civil servants in the UK face calls to be financially penalised for resisting a return to their desks in Whitehall, companies elsewhere are doing away with the physical office as a permanent workspace altogether.

San Francisco-based Dropbox, for example, has announced there will be no places for employees to sit and work – the company is instead introducing Dropbox Studios which are purely collaboration spaces for employees to meet in.

‘Many organisations are still in a limbo state – offering their own versions of hybrid working’

For the most part, many organisations are still in a limbo state – offering their own versions of hybrid working to employees while navigating the shift into a new era of work. But despite a divergence of organisational thinking across the world, one universal truth acknowledged by all is that experience is critical in shaping the future of work.

A WORKTECH webinar on 5 August in partnership with software company Accruent, called ‘Enriched Experiences: Practical advice for your organisation in the new world of work’, explored the importance of ‘experience journeys’ and offered insights from a panel of industry experts led by futurist and Unwork CEO Philip Ross.

The panel featured Simon Wells of Zurich Insurance, Jessica Horne of Accruent and Scott Hazard of Australian communication giant Atlassian. It discussed the importance of ‘3D’ experience journeys where organisations need to shape the entire personal and professional journey for employees to help them do their best work. The 3D experience is supported by critical strategies such as dynamic spaces, flexible working, diversity and choice. Ultimately, this discussion landed on a debate around to what extent employees should be able to choose their own work experience over their organisations carefully curating one.

The panel concluded that experience needs a significant amount of planning to anticipate needs, but then options should be handed over to employees so they can choose their own experience journey and create an environment that works for them.

Scott Hazard of Atlassian related this experience to the retail world, explaining that we now need to be ‘obsessing about individuals’. He explained a retail tactic called ‘Planogram’ which is a form of visual merchandising so people can see what is on offer to them. Hazard argued this is the approach we should be bringing to workplace experience.

The panellists used the construction of their new office projects, Atlassian in Sydney and Zurich Insurance’s headquarters in Zurich, to illustrate the importance of experience, flexibility and choice within their organisation.

Watch the full WORKTECH webinar here.

Pay to stay at home?

While Sydney, San Francisco and Zurich go their own way in terms of hybrid work, London finds itself at the epicentre of a debate about whether employees who want to continue to work from home should be willing to take a pay cut to do so.

The story centres on calls by UK politicians to strip civil servants of their London weighting allowance, worth around £4,000 per year, if they refuse to return permanently to their offices in central London. Senior Whitehall officials apparently discussed the idea of a financial penalty and it remains the ‘nuclear option’ on the table for individual government departments to consider.

The furore over UK civil servants and their pay has wider ramifications in the world of work. The issue is around fairness. Should employees who are spared an expensive daily commute take a wage cut? What about the extra costs in terms of electricity, heating and wi-fi that permanent home workers have to shoulder? And who pays for the higher rental or mortgage costs of a home equipped with the right space for remote working?

This is a debate that will run and run. It crosses the line between the professional and the personal, and although large employers don’t want to go there, HR departments accept that they may have little choice but to wade in.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our virtual platforms. This edition is posted 11 August 2021.
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