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Organizational Change
Stok Highlights 5 Key Priorities in the Evolution of the Workplace

Industry leaders provide guidance for prioritizing changes to your organization’s real estate and workplace strategy to maximize employee productivity, retention and wellbeing.

This week, sustainability and high-performance building services provider Stok published a new report to guide real estate and workplace professionals and business leaders in enhancing the employee experience and optimizing the value of office real estate.

Building on Stok’s 2018 report, The Financial Case for High-Performance Buildings — which demonstrated the correlation between high-performance spaces and the productivity, retention and wellbeing of people within the space, resulting in significant financial gains for an organization — High-Performance Buildings and the Evolution of the Workplace: Insights for a People-First Approach utilizes findings from a perception survey of industry leaders to offer clarity on where to focus investments to most positively impact employee productivity, retention and wellbeing in this next era of the workplace.

“Today, the purpose of office real estate and how it functions is being redefined. As workplaces – and even work itself – are reimagined, professionals are challenged with where to focus efforts to improve employee experience in this next evolution of work,” said Jacob Arlein, CEO of Stok — a certified B Corp and an ILFI Just organization. “This report helps demystify the noise around these decisions, creating confidence in making investments that will most positively impact your organization’s bottom line.”

To demystify some of the noise around the next era of the workplace experience and the role of the built environment, Stok reached out to a select group of industry professionals spanning roles in corporate real estate, human resources, facilities, strategic consulting and design to gather insights and feedback on evolving aspects of the workplace experience and their perceived effect on three key occupant impact areas: employee productivity, retention and wellbeing. The survey results highlighted five aspects of the employee experience that respondents indicated have the most positive impact on these three key occupant impact areas:

The paper provides clarity around investments that should be made in the existing physical workplace; and — perhaps more importantly, in this changing paradigm of work — which investments will drive the largest positive impact on employee productivity, retention and wellbeing.

Extracting findings from a perception survey of industry leaders, the report shares the top five changes that respondents indicated will have the greatest impact on the key areas of employee productivity, retention and wellbeing. The five areas for suggested investments in the employee experience cover workplace design, operations and policies; and the report provides details on what these changes might look like for an organization.

Take, for example, access to light and connection to nature in physical office spaces: Studies have proven that the availability of and access to daylight can positively impact health and performance outcomes of building occupants. In addition to natural light, office windows may also offer views of natural elements (trees, foliage, plants), which has also been proven to minimize the negative impacts of job stress and support overall wellbeing. Designing around access to daylight and connections to nature are also foundational aspects for building rating systems such as LEED, WELL Building Standard, Living Building Challenge and Fitwel. While providing all building occupants with majestic views and natural vistas is not feasible in many existing structures, biophilic design elements can have a similar positive impact and can be incorporated using plants, imagery, natural materials and other elements that bring the outdoors in.

“It’s critical that leaders of organizations take a people-centric approach to workplace strategy as we continue to navigate this next era of the workplace,” said Emily Dunn, Director of Workplace Strategy and Wellbeing at Stok, and lead author of the report. “Employees are, in fact, consumers — exerting a significant amount of influence over how an organization operates. We know that employees want flexibility and support around where and when they work; and organizations that prioritize this will best be able to attract and retain top talent, contributing to overall success.”

Results of the survey clearly bring the themes of flexibility and wellbeing to the forefront in prioritizing changes to the workplace. From flexibility in hours and hybrid work policies to design decisions that promote wellbeing, the report outlines how each of the five highest-impact changes can be applied uniquely and effectively to an organization's workplace strategy.

“Where do employees work best? What type of work is best supported where? Where do employees feel their best? What lessons can we learn that enable us to reimagine a workplace that allows employees to thrive and perform at their best?” Dr. Angela Loder, VP of Research at the International WELL Building Institute, says in the report. “Understanding these internal and external drivers, such as ESG reporting pressures and equity drivers, will help organizations be better prepared to attract and retain key talent and support the mission guiding the organization.”