With government restrictions lifted and (sometimes reluctant) employees being encouraged to work from the office once more, how can managers ensure staff remain happy, engaged and productive?
A good starting point is the Smart Coffee podcast series from Nestlé Coffee Partners, part of Nestlé Professional.
Featuring discussions with experts in workplace culture and design, the series tackles a variety of topics including trends in office design, the importance of autonomy at work, why social interaction is vital for productivity, how to make a success of hybrid working, designing for flow and focus and how to boost productivity.
Experts include Despina Katsikakis, Global Lead at Total Workplace, Cushman & Wakefield; Dr Fiona Kerr, founder & CEO of the NeuroTech Institute; Simon French, workplace and design director at Glaxo SmithKline Worldwide Real Estate & Facilities; ex-Twitter VP Bruce Daisley; Kristi Woolsey, associate director, Boston Consulting Group; and Primo Orpilla, principal, Studio O+A.
Based on the insights provided in the podcasts, Nestle Professional has identified five ways in which businesses can foster more creative, productive workplaces.
- Make sure employees feel trusted and have choice.
Leaders can make a big difference in this regard by encouraging greater autonomy – whether through working from home or devolved decision-making.
“A leader who shows respect, high trust, allows decision-making, gives resources and invites people to be intuitive brings wisdom to the fore; such support, open communication and understanding makes people flourish”, says Dr Fiona Kerr.
- Understand that this is a change journey.
Smarter design is not just about changing physical space but also about changing behaviours. “Organisations need to adapt to how people will work differently to align the space to those new behaviours and to focus on creating dynamic ways to reinforce serendipitous connection as this is a key reason to go to the office. The powerful cognitive and chemical synchronisation of physically sharing space that humans are built for creates profound positive impacts on how we think, work and feel,” says Dr Fiona Kerr.
- Entice employees into the office with compelling experiences.
This can be done through training, collaborative teamwork, stimulating events or simply great coffee.
“Community, mentorship, knowledge-sharing and wellbeing have suffered significantly because of remote working. Younger generations are struggling the most, and the realisation of the office’s role in providing these is coming to light. Autonomy has held up throughout the pandemic, but interaction has struggled. The future office needs to be a social place of interaction and connectivity”, says Despina Katsikakis.
“Buildings are at the heart of the wellbeing solution. We spend 90% of our time indoors. Natural light, quality of air, sensory and acoustic controls and environmental factors are critical to our performance as well as operational policies such as amenities and services, and how we move through the day.”
- Encourage breaks from technology.
Poor productivity and distraction often result from too much time looking at devices. According to Nestlé Coffee Partners research, the average employee wastes three hours on unproductive online behaviour during the working week, chatting with friends and family, consuming content and even shopping.
The survey of 1,000 UK consumers also shows that almost one in four (24%) employees spends time staring into space. This isn’t necessarily wasted time; it can be vital for helping process information and achieve a flow state, for heightened concentration and for enjoyment of specific tasks.
“When you look out the window or go for a walk it’s a key part of flow – it allows your brain to relax, pick out bits you want to focus on and put it all together,” says Dr Fiona Kerr.
Having a coffee is another way to boost that flow. Seven out of ten employees (70%) think they have better work ideas and are more productive after a coffee. When asked what makes internal work meetings with colleagues more productive, 30% said having access to refreshments e.g. coffee or tea.
- Inspire serendipitous connection through workplace attractors.
Workplace attractors, such as break rooms, water coolers and coffee areas, encourage innovation and productivity by sparking cross-functional conversations and connections and by facilitating the flow of people through a space.
David Basson, Head of Beverages at Nestlé Professional, points out that the placement of coffee machines also has a role to play. “We now work in a multichannel environment – home, office, co-working – and have to make the office attractive to make people want to go there. We need to bring teams together and promote face-to-face interaction while they are in the office, and this is something we help businesses with through the strategic placement of coffee points.”
Dr Fiona Kerr adds: “The water cooler or coffee point in the office is the place that creates serendipitous connection. This creates a recipe for high trust, high collaboration and high creativity.”
To listen to the podcasts and have the chance to win a bundle of books written by the podcast experts, visit https://www.nestleprofessional.co.uk/smart-coffee-productivity-hub/insights.