The work environment has a direct impact on the performance of a company’s employees. *OpinionWay proves it with its latest study on the relationship between the work environment and employee well-being. 92% of employees report that workspace affects their ability to concentrate and 89% of employees report that it affects their productivity. Thus, more and more companies are looking to rethink their workspace with several objectives. Increase productivity, promote collaboration and guarantee the well-being of employees in particular. However, creating a new working environment requires support employees during change.
Employees are waiting for something new. 53% of them consider that their work environment is traditional. For them, collaboration is a guarantee of creativity and innovation. According to the Office Quality of Life Barometer, 47% of employees want to leave their company for another that would benefit from a more inspiring and collaborative work environment.
Employees who are waiting for a new, more flexible, innovative and collaborative working environment. The need to innovate and adapt to expectations has become a daily challenge for companies. More and more concerned about the well-being of their employees, many of them have begun to restructure their workspace.
1st rule to support employees during change : do not rush….
Companies must not move too quickly in the evolution of their working environment otherwise they will face many difficulties, including resistance from employees. Indeed, this transition can fundamentally impact the spirit or even the corporate culture. In addition, these changes can create misunderstanding and frustration among employees. It is important to support employees in changes in their work environment.
The human factor, the key to success
The transition to a more innovative work environment is a human issue. It is the employees who will benefit from these changes and move this transition forward. It is too often thought that the evolution of the working environment can only be achieved through the implementation of new tools. Tools that can be very useful but without employee adoption, they become useless. Support employees during change is the key. For Professor Michael Wade of IMD’s Institute of Management “companies that do not take into account the human factor and organizational challenges are doomed to failure“.
Companies need to think about how to make this transition. A reflection that must be thought out in collaboration with employees. It is then necessary to analyse their work collectively and individually. It is a team work where no one should be left out to ensure full adoption.
Example of a failure to implement the flex-office
Even if companies listen to their employees and work together on a changing work environment, this is not always a success. This is the case of the digital communication agency Castor & Pollux, which was convinced that their transition to the flex-office would be a success. Certain that it had put in place the necessary tools and resources to make this transition a success, the communication agency expected rapid and easy adoption. Between the search for “best places” and the collaborative work that was supposed to create working groups that eventually turned into work “between friends”, the flex-office was not a great success. Habits quickly resurfaced and the flex-office was completely forgotten. What happened to make the flex-office not sufficiently integrated ?
Their first mistake was to set aside some positions. The second mistake was to think that the implementation of tools such as equipped offices and mobile phones would be sufficient for adoption. This is obviously not the case. After a new reflection, the agency realized that it had not thought enough in terms of “working time”. A working day is punctuated by different moments. Meetings, brainstorming times, customer exchanges… moments that require different workspaces. It would have been necessary to build a work environment centred on the tasks that punctuate an employee’s daily life.
Beyond this reflection, the essential element for any change is of course support. A new work environment is a real metamorphosis for the entire company. Change is not only about designing spaces. Indeed, new working methods are emerging as is the corporate culture, which is necessarily changing. Many changes that can disrupt employees.
Support employees during change : the Schneider Electric method
Support must start upstream
This support must be prepared well in advance of the transition. Schneider Electric launched the change management project a year and a half before the restructuring of the workspaces. A totally justified time for Marie Jouvray, change manager at Schneider Electric: “It takes time to integrate major changes in the world of work. If we had to do it all over again, we would spend as much time on it.”
During the first six months, Marie Jouvray’s team met with all the employees to explain the new arrangements. In the form of a presentation, 18 themes around furniture, IT and management were discussed. Themes that have been chosen by the employees themselves, a way to involve them in this transition.
Managers, for their part, were able to benefit from working groups dedicated to management to learn how to behave in the team environment in a new working environment. The notion of employee trust was then addressed. The aim was to give employees more flexibility, both in terms of space and new working methods.
Meetings were held throughout the project to inform employees of the progress and present them their future work environment. During these meetings, employees had the opportunity to give their opinions, ask questions and express their fears. Everything was done in collaboration and without leaving anyone behind so as not to create frustration. With a preparation period of one and a half years, on the day of the transition, each employee took ownership of the different spaces.
And then, should we continue to support our employees?
Once the flex-office was set up, the support did not stop. It continued with support for several months after the transition. Groups were formed and every 6 to 8 weeks meetings were held to review the situation and see what could be improved. In addition, a satisfaction survey was conducted and yielded a result above 80% of the satisfaction rate.
For Marie Jouvray, this transition to a new work environment “was not won at first, it took time and a lot of listening”. Proof that support and working in collaboration with employees have a real impact on the acceptance of a new work environment.
*OpinionWay study on the relationship between the work environment and employee well-being
**Study on the working environment conducted by CBRE commercial real estate consulting group and Le Moniteur
Flex office: We tested and failed. Why? Why? – cbnews.fr
Flex office: The Schneider Electric method to support change – decision-achats.fr
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