Q: HOW DO YOU REPLACE A WORKPLACE? A: Recognize it’s value and find it’s replacement

Originally posted as an article on LinkedIn:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of a well designed work experience, especially with the absence of a workplace, which for many companies is a significant catalyst and marker of organizational and cultural values. Thank you Ethan Bernstein for the shout out in your most recently published HBR article entitled “The Implications of Working Without An Office”.

At WeWork, we use a ‘Science of Space’ approach to our product. The physical workplace is an incredibly powerful tool to foster engagement, inspire innovation, and drive productivity. A well-designed workspace is more than just visually appealing—it enables you to get work done, keeps you motivated, and connects you to your team. If it were part of an equation, it would be something like Good Workplace x Good Culture= Engagement, Productivity, Business Success. Covid-19 has removed ‘Good workplace’ as an expression but this equation lives on, unsolved.   

  _______ x Good Culture= Engagement, Productivity, Business Success  

With remote work the new normal (and hybrid work on its way), organizations need to consider a new work expression to replace the workplace. While the transition to remote work in the short term has been far more successful than previous research might have indicated, an organizations ability to manage remote work in the long term needs more planning and strategy. Consider all the work moments that matter to your team and business success and which ones you have discussed adjusting or re-imagining in 100% remote work:

  • Meeting culture
  • Team trust, connection and community
  • Informal meetings and interactions
  • Serendipity and collision coefficients
  • On-boarding, training and learning
  • ‘Just in time’ manager feedback

Not paying attention to these work moments can create a ‘negative producing’ work experience. An ignored work experience is like unleashing micro-aggressions that will chip away at your work culture, negatively impacting your brand and employee engagement over time. The tilling of a Covid-19 work culture should now focus on purposeful, empathic and equitable remote work interactions, flexible work hours and hybrid work encounters. 

As we turn away from Real Estate as an important work culture signifier and business productivity and effectiveness tool, I hope we tap our neighbors and experts in user experience design, organizational psychology and Human Resources for help. 

Most recently, I’m inspired by Darren Murph, Head of Remote at Gitlab and CEO Sid Sijbrandij who lead GitLab, a 100% remote work organization with 1200+ employees across 65 countries. Gitlab has written a manifesto entitled the Remote Work Report which includes survey research, remote work myth busters and tips, tactics and a guide on how to lead or transition into a remote work practice. I highly recommend the read and invite more examples and conversations on the topic of workplace, work experience and the future of remote work.