Here’s a question for the C-suite crowd: How do you think about change management as it relates to your company’s workspace? When you move, undertake a renovation, or pursue an FF&E upgrade, do you have a system in place to regularly communicate the reasons for the change, what it will entail, and how the new office will operate?
These days, we’re seeing increased focus on the engaged employee as a happy and productive one. Part of that engagement involves the physical environment and significant changes to it. When companies invest in their workspaces, it’s vital that employees are excited about the changes and comfortable with the new environment. That engagement is the best way to ensure a return on the investment.
Creating desire for change in employees is especially important as technology continues to expand. From the internet of things to “smart” rooms to workplace apps, the modern office is more complex than ever. Younger generations coming in are comfortable with new technologies and are used to things changing frequently and rapidly; it’s largely the older generations that need some handholding. How can change management move everyone into alignment?
It could be an intranet site or series of eblasts, a series of lunch-and-learn sessions, a town-hall gathering, or more-intimate sessions where, say, people can test a chair and provide feedback on their own time. Most likely, some combination of these approaches will be most effective. But the effort must be constant and consistent, to the point of overcommunication.
I find that when people react negatively to a new space, it’s frequently due to lack of communication from management. It’s not that employees don’t like/don’t want new furniture or technology, but more a feeling of being left out of the process. That “end-user interface” is essential. Changing a work environment isn’t only about selecting furniture and colors and technologies: it’s about engaging the human factor, and helping employees feel like they’re a vital part of the change process.
There will always be resistance, because we all know that everything changes, but we also know that we have to change with the times. When it comes to the work environment, a successful change is done over time with end-user input and conversations along the way.