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Embracing failure as part of the process is key to success for any workplace strategy. In order to offer the workplaces of tomorrow, we must be willing to fail fast and try new approaches.

By prioritizing new methodologies to workplace strategy and design, we can create environments that not only adapt to future changes and disruptions, but also provide the best experience for employees.

To help guide us, Lindsey Walker (JLL), Omar Ramirez (Collective Inc.), and Brett Hautop (Workshape Inc.) joined us in our recent webinar, “Failing Fast: How To Get The Workplace Right,” to explore why they embrace a “rinse and repeat” approach to the workplace.

But first, let’s establish some context regarding the current state of things.

The current state of the workplace

Today, industries are experiencing significant changes that impact how we work and collaborate. While some trends are specific to certain industries, others have a more universal influence. Let’s take a closer look at the current state of the workplace.

1. Return of the mandates

Many companies are planning to take “corrective action” if employees don’t meet in-office minimums.

2. Portfolio consolidation

Companies like Meta, Lyft, Salesforce, and others are tightening up their real estate portfolios in 2023 to cut back on unnecessary spending and focus on experimenting with new workplace strategies.

3. Restructuring and layoffs

More companies are “doing more with less.” With layoffs already up 396% from last year, this heightened emphasis on efficiency directly impacts the job security of employees everywhere.

4. Low office attendance

Based on a recent analysis of 10 of the largest cities in the US, the average office attendance rate is just below 50%.

5. Remote jobs disappearing

LinkedIn’s data reveals that although only 14% of job postings are for remote positions, more than 50% of applicants are seeking remote opportunities.

These realities and shifts prompt the question: how can workplace teams crack the code with evolving the workplace?

In short, the role of the workplace needs to transform into a valuable asset for employees. Traditionally, both companies and employees viewed the workplace as a necessary but uninspiring entity. While workplace teams attempted to provide amenities such as in-office gyms or saunas, they discovered that these perks were not utilized by 90% of their workforce, becoming more of a sunk cost than a strategic advantage.

Workplace teams now must redirect their focus toward addressing the underlying issues in workplace design.

3 of the biggest workplace challenges

Three major challenges emerge when designing the workplace in response to employees’ changing expectations: data quality and quantity, defining and maintaining digital twins, and creating an environment receptive to assumptive scenario planning.

1. Data quality and quantity

Data quality and quantity are crucial factors in decision-making. High-quality data is information that serves its intended purpose and aligns with business objectives. However, data often gets lost in endless rows and columns of a spreadsheet–disconnected from architectural plans–leaving workplace teams with unfinished data stories and countless hours of lost time.

2. Defining and maintaining digital twins

Defining and maintaining digital twins–virtual replicas of physical environments–is another significant challenge. Creating a real-time digital twin of an office space enables confident decision-making without unnecessary budget expenditure. Given the rapid changes in the workplace, having a digital twin allows for simultaneous consideration of multiple scenarios so you can see how every aspect of your space works together.

By providing a safe digital environment for your team to test and experiment with new ideas, you significantly reduce their stress and allow for exploration before making physical alterations to the built environment.

3. Assumptive scenario planning

Assumptive scenario planning, an integral part of workplace design, often relies on past assumptions and outdated data rather than current realities. By addressing data quality and maintaining digital twins, workplace teams can construct scenarios based on emerging and reliable insights.

The key to making successful assumptions lies in effectively using collected data to tell a story and create an enjoyable space for employees. The main objective is to learn from small failures and iterate to create effective designs.

Test, learn, rinse, repeat

The concept of failing fast plays a pivotal role in successful scenario planning. Rather than viewing failure as a source of shame or an endpoint, it should be embraced as a stepping stone towards improvement. Small scale failing provides workplace teams with rich insights into their next step for evolving spaces, providing them a more adaptive workplace strategy.

To establish a strong foundation for making bold decisions, integrating data, digital twins, and scenario planning is essential. This combination empowers workplace teams with a baseline understanding and enables them to gather valuable insights, simulate scenarios, identify challenges, evaluate strategies, and make informed decisions. By leveraging these components effectively, organizations can navigate the evolving workplace landscape with confidence.

Watch “Failing Fast: How To Get The Workplace Right” on-demand

If you want to learn more about what challenges to focus on and where to take your workplace strategy next, watch or listen to “Failing Fast: How To Get The Workplace Right” by clicking on the image below. No form fill required.

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Ryan Tidwell

Content Marketing Manager, Saltmine

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