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DESIGNING WORKSPACE TO ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY

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COVID-19 presented many challenges to the traditional workplace model by accelerating emerging office trends and demanding immediate adaptation to new working methods. However, many organizations planning a return to the office realize that things are not the same and that
navigating these changes is no easy feat. 
 
Creating a strong sense of community has the potential to be a company’s most productive asset. Over 54% of surveyed employees suggest that having a strong sense of community has kept them at a company longer than otherwise while also encouraging more significant levels of work.

A recent Deloitte survey suggests that maintaining company culture is the employer’s most significant concern when teams return fragmented and potentially disconnected. However, there are ways to build a sense of community and retain company culture. Here are some of the most effective methods:

Inclusion and safety

Making a triumphant return (partial or complete) to the office means creating a safe and inclusive workspace. However, studies also found that over 66% of currently remote employees are worried about returning to the office. Of those surveyed, COVID-19 and its variants (delta, Beta, etc.) were the primary concerns. 
 
One effective way to reduce this virus-inspired concern is by installing a culture that values health, safety, and inclusion. In addition to providing options to work from home, providing sanitizing stations, socially distancing measures, and mandatory masks effectively limit the virus
spread while indoors while helping team members feel safe.

Spatial design – Using a place to build community 


When work can be done anywhere, what compels employees to come into the office? Sure, management can require weekly visits to the office, but wouldn’t it be better if employees actually wanted to? Creating an inviting space that aligns with the way people want to work can help establish a sense of community, encourage communication, and create an enjoyable space that effectively draws people into the office. 
Using workspace design to encourage community requires a dynamic work environment. Between the benefits of an open-use, highly flexible workspace and the fact that 39% of businesses are expecting a reduction of office space from COVID-19, adopting a more dynamic
workspace is no longer an option – it’s a necessity to retain and attract quality talent. 
 
Think of your office’s workplace design as an opportunity to set the “tone” of your office. For example, natural light, having several community zones –designated collaborative areas- and even including ‘resi-mercial’ design influences can create an environment that makes employees feel connected and “at home.”

Community, creativity, and leadership 


Building a solid sense of community isn’t confined to the office or even work. Management can help cultivate community by coordinating activities outside of the office. Examples can include company retreats, volunteering, or other types of excursions. 
 
Recently, the team at DESIGN-BUILD came together for a virtual “escape room” experience. We found that coming together in a scenario outside of work was great for morale and brought everyone closer together in a significant way!
 
When initiating a workplace strategy focused on community, creating a culture that supports it is essential. There are several ways to build a sense of community within an organization. Ultimately, anything (whether a place, activity, or cause) that encourages conversations around work on personal levels are effective ways to create a sense of community.

Let us help – the role of DESIGN+BUILD 

Thanks to the myriad of factors and uncertainties presented by COVID-19, navigating workspace design to improve office community is incredibly effective but heavily convoluted. 
 
Our team of local design, construction management, and workspace strategy experts has helped hundreds of local companies elevate their businesses through design, innovation, and strategy. Not sure if we can help your business? Give us a call!