The Changing Role of the Office in 2022

Written by Investors In People

The Changing Role of the Office in 2022

In a period of re-invention, where ‘the make-over’ is rife, where what was yesterday is not today, and the speed of evolution is nudging on revolution,  we shouldn’t be surprised that after the last 2 years, the humble office 9-5 is firmly being left in the rear view mirror. 

It seems that not a single day passes without a leading figure berating workers for not wanting to resume their early commutes, struggle for space on packed commuter trains and roads and negatively impact their work/life balance. 

But who’s to say we shouldn’t just lock the office door and throw away the keys?  

Would it really matter? 

Gethin Nadin – Chief Innovation Officer at Benefex seems to think it would! 

We invited Gethin to join our CEO Paul Devoy to discuss all things wellbeing and employee engagement and we drifted into the role of the physical office as part of our discussions, specifically around the impact on workplace wellbeing, stress and employee engagement levels. 

Watch the "Creating a sense of community to effectively manage employee wellbeing" webinar

According to Gethin the office is more than just a stationery cupboard and IT equipment, and after this insightful conversation we couldn’t agree more… 

Offices are now morphing into social hubs; a place to build a community, form connections, be human… and there are known consequences for slamming the door hard and not embracing the physicality of the office space. 

There are few of us who haven’t had to deal with some form of isolation, loneliness or detachment over the last few years…but whilst surfing through Netflix to ease the pain, who amongst us actually thought about the long-term impacts of lack of social contact? 

We’re talking about the casual coffee machine conversations, the shared lunch runs, the office birthday celebrations – the little things you probably never thought twice about, but now miss more than ever…? 

Did you know that casual, frequent contact with others and the strength/frequency of that contact is a key factor in diminishing chronic stress and is a major contributor to wellbeing? 

Low impact social contact works – one study shows that low impact social contact can result in an additional 3 years on an individuals life expectancy!Now of course that could be as simple as passing by someone on the stairs in an apartment block, a little head nod in the gym or a quick chat at the school gate. But think about the result of low impact social contact and the frequency that this takes place in an office working environment… 

In fact a long running study on men over several decades saw strong correlations between length of life and the quality of their social networks.Community matters! 

7 in 10 peoplel surveyed about their lockdown experience said they missed their work community, the chats, incidental contacts and that as a result they felt their creativity and productivity was hampered, possibly enough to potentially damage their career. 

1 in 2 do not have a friend at work. It’s estimated that if employers can increase the number of people who say they have a friend at work to 3 in 5,then they would see a third fewer Health and Safety incidents…and a 12% increase in profits! 

Predictors of burnout/stress, such as high workload, inadequate resources, role ambiguity, organisational structure, job demands, unclear expectations, lack of control, lack of social support – have all been shown to be reduced via high levels of social engagement and social capital within an organisation. 

So it would seem the stronger our community, the stronger we are as humans. 

If you want more of Gethin’s wisdom, then check out the full webinar here – insert link 

So, is Hybrid Working the Answer? 

Maybe, it is. 

Or perhaps it’s just the start…The onus should be on employers to be slightly ‘paternalistic’ in that, whilst acknowledging that working from home has lots of benefits, there is a higher level and broader burden on themr.  

And that burden is to build a community…with all the benefits that are evident when communities exist. 

 And who can be the pillars of these new communities? Managers. We know the issues around the accidental manager, so instead of continuing to allow managers to walk the path of line management alone, perhaps we should empower them to shift what being a manager really means. It’s not always about having a team and developing people. Maybe the manager of 2022 can be a beacon of light for the new communities you are building in your organisations… 

Social capital brings out the best in us. High levels of social capital is one of the building blocks of a high performance culture and a high performance organisation. 

When global competition is so strong…this is our opportunity to build resilience and competitive advantage. 

As our CEO says ‘practice radical trust. Assume positive intent always.’ 

It’s good advice. 

We know at Investors in People the value of putting people first. 

Recent research has shown that: 

  • 69% of organisations say having an Investors in People accreditation boosts staff engagement and retention and 89% claim they have a more motivated workforce as a result of our accreditation 
  • Only 20% of accredited organisations say they are still struggling to attract quality applicants vs 35% of non-accredited 
  • 58% of organisations claim being accredited has helped them improve their employees wellbeing as well as helping employee engagement levels 

But, don’t take our word for it. 

Research published by Gallup found that employee engagement is a critical factor in organisational success in many ways, not least contributing to 23% difference in profitability between organisations in the top quartile for engagement compared to the lower quartile. 

Engagement matters.  

Community matters. 

Trust matters. 

Don’t let the hybrid working and remote worker conversations be driven by the wrong concerns. Instead, think about what your team need to thrive, because when they do, so will you. 

About Investors in People

Investors in People have been working with a huge range of big and small organisations from Public Sectors, SMEs, Charities, PLCs and anything in between for over 30 years. We have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and our  accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management. So we know we speak your language and can offer the specific kind of support and guidance your organisation needs.

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14th Nov 2023 | Old Billingsgate, London



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