Wednesday 25th November 2020 Ensuring Employees Are Happy When Returning to Work

It’s been a tough year for businesses across the globe, with the number of people working from home rising from 21% to 25% in October, and tighter lockdowns only strengthening this trend. By the same token, the news that Pfizer’s vaccine is 90% effective has given the stock market a major boost, indicating that the world may well be in the very initial stages of the return to ‘normalcy’. For many workers, the end of the pandemic will involve returning to their respective offices after many months. How can employers ensure that the happiness factor is high so that teams can give their all to achieve company goals together?

The Effect Of Cleanliness On Mood

There is an inexorable link between interior design and mood, with researchers at DePaul University finding that clutter can be “so overwhelming that it chips away at your well-being, relationships, and more.” Cleanliness and happiness are closely linked, with numerous studies showing that clean and tidy spaces boost concentration, are more inviting and attractive to both internal and external clients, and have a positive impact on morale and productivity. A clean office can also boost the feeling of safety. All offices should be professionally cleaned, with special attention being paid to bathrooms, shared kitchens, and other spaces that can have a higher germ quotient.

Training Staff On Respectful Communication

Leaders and employees alike can benefit from the completion of courses on skills such as conflict resolution, communication, stress management, and self-care. Even offices that “return to normal” will have employees who may continue to be stressed for various reasons – including having to accept lower workloads or salaries, mental conditions triggered by collective worry in recent months, the difficulty of adapting once again to in-office work, and, in some cases, grief from friends or family members being affected by the pandemic. Supervisors should be trained to be patient and to understand changes in employee behaviour, taking an assistive rather than a disciplinary approach. They should also ensure that employees experiencing stress know whom to turn to for support. 

Policy Changes

Companies can also consider reassessing policies, making changes that may be beneficial to both the company and its employees. For instance, managers may decide to let part or the entirety of the team work remotely if goals are being achieved, and this means greater flexibility and reduced transport costs for employees and lower office rental costs for employers. The company could set aside dedicated days for important meetings and social get-togethers to ensure communication flows and team spirit is kept intact. Managers and supervisors might also decide to allow employees to take mental health days off in addition to sick leave for a specific time period.

Embracing Stress Busting Activities At Work

There are many ways that employees can make daily life more fun and less stressful for employees. Just a few ideas include offering yoga or mindfulness meditation for teams at work, organising team building activities, and holding ‘self-care talks’ once a month or at regular intervals. Studies have shown that holistic activities such as yoga and mindfulness meditation have powerful effects on mood, and are able to lower stress levels almost immediately. Team building and social activities should be held outdoors in green areas on sunny days. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes in a natural area can make people feel happy and lower the effects of physical and mental stress.

When the era of new normality truly begins and many employees can begin to work in offices again, supervisors and managers will need to be aware of the mental health impact caused by the global health crisis. They can help to counter these impacts in many ways – including simple strategies such as cleanliness and tidiness. Staff training is also key; those who are struggling mentally should be free to discuss their issues openly and know who to turn to. Finally, companies can set up new policies that promote flexibility and happiness, and bring a little light into the office through fun activities that focus strongly on stress relief.

 

This is a guest post by freelance writer, Lucy Wyndham

Wednesday 18th November 2020 5 Tech Giants Showing Confidence in the Office Space Market

You’ll have a difficult job browsing content platforms nowadays without coming across articles focusing on – or at least alluding in some way to – the working from home revolution. A whole host of companies, including Twitter, have announced that they will allow staff to continue WFH permanently if they wish, following its success throughout lockdown.

However, an increasing number of employees and employers alike are coming to the realisation that WFH isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Cramped and uncomfortable working conditions, distracting housemates and noisy neighbours, the rising cost of utilities; these are just a few of the things that make WFH an unviable long-term solution for many workers. It’s also an unsustainable option for businesses that thrive on innovation and creative thinking.

Here are five successful tech brands that still see the value in offices and plan to embrace them in one form or another for the foreseeable future.

1. Netflix

Among the companies looking to increase their office footprint is Netflix. According to a Bloomberg report, the technology and production company is going to triple its office space in London and move into a new UK HQ.

Reportedly, the business is set to move into a new 87,000 sq ft commercial property on Berners Street in the West End, which is situated just off Oxford Street near Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road Underground Station.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to the U.K., we are excited to expand our operations in London,” a Netflix spokesperson told Bloomberg. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal in September, Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings said that not being able to meet with coworkers face-to-face is a ‘pure negative’.

2. Google

Also in September 2020, The Times reported that Google has decided to lease an additional 70,000 sq ft of workspace beside its new $1.2 billion headquarters in King’s Cross, London.

The tech giant will also be extending the lease on its 160,000 sq ft office space in the Central Saint Giles building located near Tottenham Court Road for a further ten years. The lease was due to expire in 2021.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview at the TIME100 Honorees’ Visions for the Future event:

“We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

3. Amazon

Over in the US, Amazon recently acquired the Taylor flagship building in Midtown Manhattan from WeWork for an estimated $1 billion. It will eventually be home to 2,000 employees – which means the tech giant will be increasing its current workforce of 4,000 by half.

This brings the number of Amazon offices in New York City to eight. Most are located in Midtown Manhattan, however the business recently started leasing workspace on the Brooklyn waterfront to house its Amazon Music team.

4. Apple

Apple established its inaugural office space in New York City ten years ago, and after leasing 220,000 sq ft in the 11 Penn Plaza building, it’s set to expand. According to a Business Insider report, the company is aiming to take on an additional 60,000 sq ft in the building.

That said, Apple is apparently negotiating with its landlords and ‘nothing concrete’ is in place yet, so they may not end up expanding. Either way, the discussions can be seen as a demonstration of confidence in the office space market in NYC.

5. Facebook

Facebook is tripling its local workforce in NYC and has recently leased office space in one of the city’s iconic buildings – a 107-year-old former main post office complex near Pennsylvania Station – to accommodate its growth.

This year, Facebook, along with Amazon and Google, have increased their teams by over 2,600 employees, collectively bringing the number of people they employ to 22,000. Together, the three tech juggernauts have also acquired 1.6 million sq ft of workspace since the start of 2020.

Is the future of work really going to be ‘hybrid’?

Free Office Finder believe that the future of work will be hybrid and that flexible workspace will play an increasingly critical role when it comes to accommodating this approach. Covid-19 is acting as a catalyst for trends that were already emerging; there was a strong appetite for a flexible working way before the pandemic hit and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

 

This is a guest post by our friend Nick Riesel, Managing Director of FreeOfficeFinder.
Photo credit: bennymarty – stock.adobe.com

Friday 09th October 2020 The Attendee Experience With Our Hopin Virtual Conference

Ahead of our Workplace Trends: Success in Uncertain Times virtual conference (15 October 2020) on the Hopin Platform, one of our founders, Maggie Procopi, recorded this short orientation video as a show-round for attendees. 

Transcription

Hello, welcome to this orientation for Workplace Trends: Success in Uncertain Times, which takes place here on the Hopin virtual event platform, on Thursday 15 October.

I’m Maggie Procopi, one of the founders of Workplace Trends and I manage the conferences on a day to day basis.

We want all our delegates to get the most out of the conference day itself, so we thought it would be useful to have this opportunity for you to have a quick look around and to make sure your tech works with the system.

First off I need to tell you that Hopin is largely a brilliant platform, but it only works really well with Chrome or Firefox. Other browsers might give you problems. If you still have issues even using Chrome or Firefox, try logging out and back in again, or even restarting your computer (turn it off and on again).

A couple of times we’ve also noticed using Zoom earlier in the day might affect your computer’s settings so that the Hopin audio or video doesn’t work, but restarting a pc or laptop usually does the trick.

So moving on, Hopin is really laid out just like a conference venue, with a main stage, sessions (or break out rooms), expo booths, and a reception area.

Main stage is where I am now, and where our speakers will present from. After each presentation we’ll all move to a Session, the link for everyone will pop up automatically, and this is where we’ll run our Q&As. Audience members can post questions either in the chat box to the right of the screen, or they can request for their video to be added to the session and they can speak direct to the speaker and the chair or moderator.

During breaks there’ll be a few different sessions for you to join as well, so you can meet and chat to other delegates. Attendees can also create their own sessions and invite colleagues and friends to join them there – a bit like a water cooler area.

There’s the option within all sessions to be a voyeur – to just watch and listen, or you can join in fully with your own video camera and microphone which are on your computers.

Expo Booths are like exhibition stands. Most of ours will be running a short into video about the organisation themselves and you can chat or leave messages for the company to get back to you. Some of them also have special offers on so they’re definitely worth a look.

There’s also a networking feature, the link’s towards the bottom of the menu on the left. This is a bit like speed dating, conference style. It randomly pairs you with another attendee for a short time, 3-5 minutes, so you can say hi, get to know each other a little, and connect with them on social channels or with your business details.

On the right of your screen you should be able to see another column with chat, polls and people links.

The chat function is great, everyone can post here, either about the event in general, or specific to whatever session, presentation or expo booth they’re in.

Polls is where we ask attendees to let us know their opinions – these will pop us at any time during the day, often during a presentation in response to a speaker’s particular question.

The People tab is really important and a great feature we were so pleased to find on Hopin – It’s where you can see who else is attending. You can view their profile (so it’s important you set yours up early on – you can do that before the event). You can also everyone’s social links and connect with them there, invite them to video call, or just leave a chat message for them.

So that’s a quick show-round of what you can expect at the conference. Please take a few minutes to explore the features now. There might not be much going on just at the moment but you’ll be able to get a feel for how things will be on the conference day.

All the programme details for the conference are on our website, workplace trends.co.uk – but we’re covering themes around home and agile working, health and safety law, case studies (in particular from HSBC who based in the East, have a wealth of experience in handling business during a pandemic crisis), the future of real estate and the office market, wellbeing and mental health in general, FM, and the role of managing change in our current environment.

This is all set against a backdrop of the challenges posed by Covid 19.

So I hope this introduction was useful.

If you don’t have your ticket for the conference yet just search ‘Workplace Trends Conference Hopin’ and the link should come up for you.

Thank you very much for watching, and myself and our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors are looking forward to seeing you soon!

Stay Safe and Well.

Friday 04th September 2020 Biomimicry — Not all sharkskins and honeycombs
Friday 28th August 2020 Getting the best from our virtual events

Hopefully in 2021 Workplace Trends and other event organisers will be able to run physical conferences again. Most likely they will all be hybrid events, with a mix of virtual and real life experiences – something we’ve been particularly working towards for a few years now. Covid has just accelerated us in this direction.

This is how we found the Hopin virtual event platform. At the beginning of the year I suspect Hopin was jut another small Californian start up. But in the face of the global pandemic the founders were suddenly confronted with an enormous and hungry market, desperate for their product. All credit to them, they’ve done a fantastic job to bring the software forward in such a short space of time.

So both what should have been our spring Workplace Trends Research Summit (now scheduled for 10 September) and our main autumn London conference (taking place on 15 October 2020) are both happening on the Hopin platform.

Ahead of these events we want to make sure our delegates are comfortable with the platform and don’t spend the first half hour of the conferences finding their way around. To this end we’re running some short orientation events, plus I hope the following notes will help outline how the events will work.

In short, the programmers at Hopin have emulated a full conference venue as far as is possible, in an online environment.

After entering the event, attendees are taken to the Reception area – the information hub and equivalent of a venue’s lobby. The other areas in the venue are on the left sidepanel. These include Stage, Networking, Sessions, and Expo.

Which browsers work best?

The latest versions of Chrome or Firefox guarantee the best experience. Brave, Safari, and Microsoft IE or Edge don’t quite have the web tech that’s required.

Note: Sometimes, third-party extensions can affect the experience blocking some of the Hopin interface elements. If this happens Hopin advises to open the event in Incognito mode on Chrome or Private tab on Firefox.

The 5 areas of Hopin

There are five areas in a Hopin event. Each area is flexible and provides live interaction for attendees in different ways.

1. Reception

The Reception area is the welcome page or “lobby” of an event. Here you can quickly find out what’s happening at the event currently: the organizer’s welcome message, sponsors, the schedule, and speakers. The Reception area is also used for announcements, important links, messages, and event updates.

2. Stage

This is a one-to-many interaction area that supports up to 100,000 concurrent viewers. The Stage is great for keynotes, presentations, panels, performances, and fireside chats.

3. Sessions

The Sessions segment of Hopin delivers the best experience for group discussions. In Sessions, you will see virtual roundtables for speakers and attendees to interact. Up to 10 people can participate in a Session with their camera on, with up to 500 people who can watch off-camera and interact via the session chat. This will be where attendees ask questions to the speakers on camera if they wish, or through the chat function, whichever they are comfortable with.

Attendees can also create any number of their own sessions during the live event.

4. Networking

The Networking segment on Hopin is pure engagement and is similar to one-on-one meetings on a FaceTime call. This segment is designed to recreate the “coffee-in-the-lobby” conversations or watercooler chats. The Networking area automates the discovery of new connections. When an attendee participates in the Networking, they are matched with a random attendee and meet for a set time preset by the organizer.

Attendees can click the Connect button during a call to exchange contact information and after the event the newly made contacts will appear at https://hopin.to/account/connectionspage of their individual Profile.

5. Expo

The Expo area is the virtual exhibitor hall with vendor booths.

Every booth will either have a pre-recorded video in it, or a live video session with a vendor representative manning and moderating the booth.

Plus, you can leave your details with the click of a button for vendors to follow up with you later if you wish, and many will also be carrying an event special offer for delegates.

How do people get around at a Hopin event?

Similar to a physical event, the Hopin event experience is self-directed but with wayfinding tools and signs to help people easily get around. Attendees ultimately choose where they want to go.

Chats for everyone

There are multiple chat channels in a Hopin event. Each one serves a different purpose.

  • Event chat — global event chat where all participants can post messages.
  • Stage chat — chat with a Stage-related discussion all attendees have access to.
  • Session chat — each session in Sessions has dedicated chat rooms. Attendees who are off-camera can chat to interact with people on camera and vice-versa.
  • Booth chat — like Sessions, each booth has its own chat for group discussions and interaction.
  • Meeting chat — in Networking, a private 1:1 chat channel is available to the participants.
  • Direct messages — anyone can send messages to an individual at a Hopin event via DMs in the People tab. To send a DM, find the person you wish to chat with in the People tab, click their profile photo, and send a direct message to them.

I hope you like the sound of this platform. I certainly did, having spent many days in early lockdown searching for an online model that would get us this close to an in-person conference experience.

Check out our Workplace Trends Research Summit if you haven’t already got your ticket. Full details are on our website and on Hopin of course as well.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and well.

Best wishes, Maggie