By: Pierre Morrisseau, CEO, OneGroup
Remote work for many appears to be here to stay. The pressing challenge for CEO’s is finding the right hybrid mix of remote work and in-person collaboration to sustain the corporate culture, values and mission.
Connecting people remotely with technology has had a profound impact on business. In many ways, it has increased focus and productivity. The bad news is we can’t quantify what we are losing. Are we really connecting? Are we truly developing strong relationships? Are we missing the many casual opportunities to mentor and teach that happen when we are together? I believe that finding the right balance between remote work and returning to the workplace is critical to our success. We need to find the best way to gathering around the proverbial water cooler.
We’ve seen that remote work calls for additional skills development and communication techniques. We’ve learned that further innovation is needed to make remote work more productive and engaging. We question: How do we re-engineer in-person activities? Is this a chance to create new work models and facilities that enhance the focus on relationship building, learning and engagement when we do come together? I believe there is tremendous opportunity for innovation here as well.
When OneGroup built its new building, we wanted to create a truly innovative space that facilitated teamwork, collaboration, innovative thought, engagement, and holistic solutions. Not just for our employees, but for our clients, our partners, and our communities. The innovative workspaces allow teams to collaborate to ask better questions. It facilitates diverse groups of our employees, vendors and our community coming together.
One of my favorite parts of that journey was taking a group of employees to the Herman Miller design studio in Michigan where they explained, demonstrated, and lived the concept of deconstructing the office. They asked these questions (and many more): What is the true use of the space? What is the impact on human psychology in that space? How will it enhance the users’ objectives?
They realized that an office was meant to be highly functional for everyone. Their model defines several types of work, yet 80% of an employee’s time is spent doing just one of these. They showed us that you can build your primary space for the 80% of work and build other spaces in the building that fit your other types of work—to build in flexibility and creativity. To see some of this in action you can go to www.hermanmiller.com/stories/why-magazine/.
In the end, the journey to learn and open our minds to new ways of working was as valuable for our culture as the final construction of our new facility. We learned there is real power in teams. They are more impactful in quickly bringing solutions, and they create a more rewarding experience for our team members. The process—although we had no idea at the time—also prepared us to easily transition to remote and safe in-office work while not missing a beat in serving our many clients.
I think the quest for the hybrid work environment follows the same thought process: deconstruct the workplace and perhaps even the total work concept. As CEO’s it provides a great opportunity to ask better questions and to collaborate with each other, our employees, our partners, and our communities. Every organization is different and will want to develop their own specific solutions, but our challenges are remarkably similar. We share business fundamentals that can be applied in each of our organizations. I see this as a tremendous opportunity for each of us to take our organizations to a higher level.