Experience Per Square Foot

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Experience Per Square FootTM :

What Really Matters to Your Employees

The rapid spread of coronavirus has forced companies to suddenly become distributed workforce organizations, leading employees remotely through what is a tumultuous time. Many organizations have not previously faced these remote work challenges at any significant scale. Accordingly, occupiers’ first operational focus has been on implementing new work policies and ensuring business continuity. Working out the technological, communication and organizational difficulties so that work can continue as close to normal as possible is the first victory. However, once that is tested and confirmed, an ongoing question remains: How does a suddenly distributed workforce continue to thrive? Professionally, of course, but also interpersonally, mentally and emotionally. These challenges are made more difficult in the current circumstances because most employees were not planning on working from home, may not be trained on working from home, some workers will be juggling care for children and potentially parents, and the current health and economic news may be disheartening and/or anxietyproducing. There is cause for optimism in all of this: well-established remote workers have a very positive workplace experience and are highly engaged members of the company. They outscore office-based workers on both workplace experience and engagement, giving a hint to the opportunities on offer. Remote workers post experience and engagement outcomes that are on average 5% higher than office-based workers. We know this from our datadriven approach to workplace strategy analysis. Right now, the key is how to transition from an officebased environment to a remote environment and maintain, or even improve, workplace experience and engagement. From our bespoke Experience per Square TM Foot (XSF) database, containing 2.6 million data points

from office workers around the world, we have pinpointed what is crucial. Here we discuss the seven critical factors that drive a world-class workplace experience for both office-based and remote workers alike.

Remote Workers: Positive Workplace Experience & Highly Engaged 6.20 6.00 5.80 5.60 5.40 5.20 5.00


Engagement Remote


Seven Key Factors 1. Inspire through culture 2. Leverage technology to collaborate effectively 3. Show people you care by keeping them informed 4. Ensure learning continues 5. Coach people to overcome distractions 6. Prioritize movement and taking breaks to recharge 7. Keep people connected to meaningful work cushmanwakefield.com

What Really Matters to Your Employees

The seven key factors in driving workplace experience are laid out below, and each of them is important in their own right. Additionally, they are intertwined with each other such that improvements in one area may help buoy the others. Company and team leaders can operationalize these concurrently to reinforce an overall positive work experience for their employees.

Key Factor #1

Inspire through culture The cultural appeal of an organization is a top-tier driver of experience and engagement levels. While culture is important to many workplace outcomes, it is especially correlated to employees’ motivation, pride in their work and loyalty to their employer. People want a 1 sense of purpose, and with people working from home leaders face the imperative of making sure employees don’t lose the sense of connection to that culture. Communications, virtual events and new initiatives like mentor programs can advance company culture with a distributed workforce. Think about the aspects of culture that are most important to employees and design a virtual program to communicate the ways those cultural ideals continue to thrive and advance in the current environment.

Key Factor #2

Leverage technology to collaborate effectively Most organizations are terrified that collaboration and productivity levels will fall drastically when employees lose the ability to engage face-to-face with colleagues as a result of moving to a remote environment. In reality, we have uncovered the two most important factors in successful team collaboration and bonding—whether team members are in an office or working somewhere else—are the availability and ease of use of collaboration technology. Interestingly, our XSF analysis reveals that face-to-face interaction only plays a secondary role. Collaboration can be achieved via digital means if employees have access to effective communication tools like IM, video conferencing and file-sharing platforms to keep collaboration thriving even when people can’t see each other in-person in the office.

1 “Employees Need Purpose More than Pay to Be Happy and Productive.” Forbes, February 28, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ daniellebrooker/2019/02/28/employees-need-purpose-more-than-payto-be-happy-and-productive/#3951aa657088

Social Distancing Should Not Mean Social Isolation: “Emotional culture influences employee satisfaction, burnout, teamwork and even hard measures such as financial performance and absenteeism.” – Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill, Harvard Business Review

cushmanwakefield.com 2

What Really Matters to Your Employees

Key Factor #3

Show people you care by keeping them informed An effort to keep people informed is a significant driver of many experience and engagement outcomes we study, especially employee motivation and company pride. The best organizations with the highest commitment to their employees always focus on this as an imperative for success. Most companies struggle with communication during normal times, and their ability to inform the workforce will be further stress-tested during this pandemic. In the current environment, showing employees that leadership has a plan to keep them and their teams informed has never been more important. Employees need to understand how the organization is taking action to manage the current situation in a way that will protect the work and life aspects of their daily experience, and each team member should understand their role in the process. Communication is more than just training and educating people on how to work remotely. Leaders should provide clarity on the company’s overall plan, the impacts to their business and where individuals can go to get help, as needed. Finally, employees need information to be a two-way street where leaders also listen to them, think about them as individuals and provide them with 2 information that feels personally relevant.

Key Factor #4

Ensure learning continues One of the most common reasons people leave a company is they feel they are no longer learning new things and developing career skills. Learning and development go hand-in-hand with company culture. With people working from home, there is a risk that individuals will feel isolated and that forward momentum has stalled until the return of “business-as-usual.” The best companies recognize this critical need and find ways to ensure learning continues to take place in both formal and informal ways while people are remote. Formal training sessions on critical skills need to be readily available online or through webinars. Formal and informal learning can also be achieved by continuing or starting mentor programs where employees have the chance to connect and talk things over virtually with mentors across the organization. Managers can continue informal learning with their teams as part of every touch point on an assignment or project. Lastly, teams can take this time to learn how to work as a virtual team by setting up team norms, protocols for reaching each other during an emergency or urgent matter and new rules of engagement that need to develop during a transition to a virtual team environment.

Highly Engaged Workers are Part of Learning Organizations 3 2

The current environment may be challenging for some workers, and organizations may choose to partner with mental health experts to address employee concerns. Cushman & Wakefield does not offer mental health advice, but one place for organizations to learn more about mental health concerns and COVID-19 is via the World Health Organization 3

“How Learning Impacts Engagement and Productivity.” Udemy, February 2020, https://www.udemy.com/blog/new-data-how-learning-impactsengagement-and-productivity/ cushmanwakefield.com 3

What Really Matters to Your Employees

Key Factor #5

Key Factor #6

Not surprisingly, the most important factors for productivity when doing focused work are having minimal distractions and having space for focused work. We have found that more open environments in the workplace come with both visual and noise distractions, and similar challenges exist in the home environment. With employees suddenly working from home, it may be hard for them to avoid distractions during the day for a variety of reasons including children, pets and even being around things they normally associate with personal time. And, not everyone has a dedicated space at home where they can be alone and sit head-down. The key here is for managers to be empathetic, to ask how it is going and to coach employees who are new to remote work on how to make a successful transition and what they can do to get around these challenges. Solutions can include setting up children with their own quiet time activity to coincide with work time, using sound cancelling headphones or listening to music designed to promote concentration.

The data shows that movement is one of the most important things to keep energy levels high throughout the workday. When in the office, people often naturally move around to attend a meeting, talk to a colleague or go to the pantry to grab a coffee. With employees confined to working from home, often head-down or on the phone for hours at a time, people can easily become more sedentary. They can easily forget to take care of themselves. It’s important to remind them it is okay to take a break, and it is beneficial to take a few minutes to get up and move around their home or even take a walk outside to recharge. This is also true for kids at home involved in distance learning programs. Getting up and 5 being active periodically throughout the day improves productivity while making for a happier, healthier experience for everyone cooped up inside.

Coach people to overcome distractions

Prioritize movement and taking breaks to recharge

Physical Activity Can Reduce Stress and Improve Mood, Energy and Sleep Quality 4 4 5

“Benefits of Exercise.� UK National Health Service, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/ For some ideas on how to be active while working remotely, see resources from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Cleveland Clinic cushmanwakefield.com 4

What Really Matters to Your Employees Key Factor #7

Keep people connected to meaningful work No matter where employees are, the personal connection to their work, knowing their work is meaningful and seeing it contribute to company success, is of utmost importance to their experience and engagement levels. Our Experience per Square Foot™ analysis uncovers that there is a direct correlation between the workplace experience and this level of engagement. When employees are working in an environment where they feel valued, productive and supported, their workplace experience improves along with their engagement. While our industry invests much time and resources into choreographing great workplace experiences within the office, we can ill afford to forget about experience when people’s environments shift to their homes. When team members can’t see their colleagues each day, feel distractions and pressures at home, and are worried about the health and safety of their families and friends, it can be a major disruption to their work days. Leaders can reach out to team members to understand these challenges and to discuss any hurdles to continuing to take personal satisfaction in their work during this difficult time. This goes a long way to keeping people inspired and connected to their work-related mission and purpose.

Conclusions and What’s Next While remote working is not a new phenomenon, over the coming weeks and months it will be experienced more intensely and by a wider tranche of the workforce than ever before. Even seasoned remote workers, used to operating out of multiple workplaces, will need to adjust as they find themselves restricted to exclusively working from the home. In light of this, we are leveraging our data-driven research, through Experience per Square Foot™, to help businesses focus on some of the critical factors that team leaders and team members alike should act on at this time. Over the forthcoming weeks, Cushman & Wakefield will be providing deeper insights into these topics, sharing best practices learned from working with a diverse range of clients across the globe. Our podcast series, “Rebalancing the Work-Life Experience,” is now available here. We will also continue to mine our existing databases, along with creating new ones, to provide data-driven, fact-based views further enhanced by experiences of successful outcomes achieved with companies across the world.


Head of Occupier Business Performance despina.katsikakis@cushwake.com


Senior Managing Director Workplace & Experience Strategy bryan.berthold@cushwake.com


Consulting Director steven.zatta@cushwake.com


Head of Insight & Analysis Asia Pacific



Americas Head of Occupier Research david.smith4@cushwake.com

© 2020 Cushman & Wakefield. All rights reserved. The information contained within this report is gathered from multiple sources believed to be reliable. The information may contain errors or omissions and is presented without any warranty or representations as to its accuracy.