There’s a lot of debate about the return to the office, the hybrid work week and the potential hub and spoke layout of the future. To be honest, I’m not sure every company needs an office, but I know for certain that if you are keeping a real estate footprint at all, you should be building a Connection Center.
- Connection to work
- Connection to each other
- Connection to customers
Let’s break that down a little more.
Connection to Work
There may be a large portion of their job or role that people can do remotely every day. In fact, from a task perspective, they may never need to go to an office again. However, many times there is a need to connect with work in a deeper way. Perhaps the home routine is distracting, or there is construction on the street for the day. Maybe they need a place with a nice backdrop for a professional call or podcast, etc. Companies should be providing options for this type of connection to work that may offer deeper focus or additional resources available at the convenience and schedule of their employees.
Connection to Each Other
There are a lot of potential issues with remote-only work when it comes to interpersonal connections. Some teams say they have gotten closer over the pandemic, but surveys have shown that even though the number of remote meetings is up, people are saying they are collaborating less.
Connection spaces allow people to gather when they need to create forums, solidify teams and make decisions. They give alternate options when “Zoom fatigue” sets in. They may also help with what some people fear will be preferential treatment of employees with physical relationships over virtual ones.
Connection to Customers
I’ve said before that if you’re keeping an office and NOT turning it into a customer experience, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Creating a space that allows customers to connect to their brand and to experience products is essential, especially in today’s world of socially conscious consumerism.
However, a Connection Center can be beneficial to employees as well. Reconnecting to the brand’s mission, seeing the value proposition through a customer’s eyes and reigniting the fire for why they work where they do in the first place are all benefits of these types of spaces.
Connections centers built around the interplay of work, relationships and customers can help businesses remain productive, collaborative and inspired. Creating a center like this for individuals and teams to use on an “as-needed basis” is key.
Employees who are asked to arbitrarily come back into the office three days and do the same work from home the other two days will ask, “Why?” They won’t even ask why on a role-by-role or project-by-project basis. They’ll ask why every day, meeting by meeting and task by task.
Positioning the connection center as a retreat, oasis and gathering place invites them to come as needed instead of dictating they come when they don’t need to, in which case, they’ll eventually stop coming to work altogether.