The future of the workplace

We hosted a roundtable event recently on the subject of changes in the modern workplace. The Whitepaper will be released soon but attending this got me thinking about the differences between the current business world to the one I first entered twenty years ago.

I also thought about how companies need to adapt to ensure maximum attraction, engagement and retention from future prospects and existing staff.

People expect so much more from a workplace these days - gone are the days of offices full of cabinets and cubicles, replaced by hot-desking, cloud storage and open plan spaces, ideal for collaboration.

Due to there being less of a desk-ownership attitude within many businesses, breakout areas are more important than ever to ensure people have a place to decompress at times throughout the work day.

The biggest change has been that the world has become more visual, especially during the last decade. Through social networking, there is so much more visual content to digest than ever before, so companies need to make sure their offices are inviting, vibrant and exciting places to work. Nothing will put a potential applicant off a business more than seeing pictures online of a drab workspace filled with under-motivated employees. Forget about the first impression being made at interview - these days, the first impression is made online.

Companies once could oversee the way their business was viewed by controlling their own promotional material but LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and assorted other platforms now enable interested parties to see beyond what the business wants them to see. As such, it's key that companies invest in making their working environment as appealing as possible. Those just entering the jobs market will be particularly swayed by such factors. Having grown up in a world of mobile devices and immediate gratification, Generation Z won't look at an office for the potential - they'll base their (fast) decision on the actual as and when they see it.

Our challenge as employers is to react to this without compromising the honesty of our business. Whilst creating an enticing shop-front might win over more applicants, if it is merely there for show and doesn't genuinely represent the company, newly hired employees will quickly become disengaged and distrusting - and then ex-employees.

Unquestionably, style is playing a bigger part than ever before in initial attraction and early engagement - but it's vital to remember that it is the underlying substance of a business is what maximises long-term engagement and, ultimately, retention.

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