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10 things employees want in modern workplace: Findings of COEL and Talent Glue research involving 300 Cambridge businesses



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The key hopes for employees in the modern workplace have been revealed after the findings of workplace research involving more than 300 businesses and 1,000 participants in the Cambridge region were published.

Cambridge-based fit-out and design company COEL and Kelly Drewery, a business psychologist from Talent Glue, conducted the research throughout 2021, as the Cambridge Independent has reported.

At Bidwells’ offices in Trumpington to mark the original launch of the COEL and Talent Glue research project are, from left, Phil Kentish - Bidwells, Guy Baker - Mantle, Kelly Drewery - Talent Glue, Ben Bullman - First Intuition, Ruscha Fields - The Good Plant Company, Louise Rushworth - Cambridge Network, and Lizzie Duckworth - COEL.Picture: Keith Heppell
At Bidwells’ offices in Trumpington to mark the original launch of the COEL and Talent Glue research project are, from left, Phil Kentish - Bidwells, Guy Baker - Mantle, Kelly Drewery - Talent Glue, Ben Bullman - First Intuition, Ruscha Fields - The Good Plant Company, Louise Rushworth - Cambridge Network, and Lizzie Duckworth - COEL.Picture: Keith Heppell

The results of the research, Lost in Location: the new way we work, can be read in full at cambridgeindependent.co.uk.

It examines the social, psychological and physical effects that the pandemic has had on the way we work both as individuals and within organisations.

We previously explored four case studies from the research and this week we look at the findings from their survey.

COEL and Talent Glue have identified five themes from the data that have implications for managers and employers, as they describe here:

'The new way we work' research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue
'The new way we work' research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue

1. Connection

How can we help people to reconnect? People managers may want to consider exploring the needs of people at different management grades and life stages. When considering workplace design, you may want to think about space where people can socially connect.

2. Consistent experience

How can we create a consistent employee experience? People managers may want to evaluate the work their team must, should or could do in the workplace and what can be done anywhere. You may also want to think about bringing more home comforts into the workplace to make it feel more attractive.

‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue
‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue

3. Visibility

How do we manage performance? Before the pandemic, the onus was often on part time or remote workers rather than the employer to make extra efforts to be visible, to feel informed, to network. This has flipped and workers expect employers to help increase their visibility. People want to be seen if they have made the effort to commute.

4. Managing expectations

How do we manage worker expectations fairly? Fairness of people’s informal arrangements is likely a headache for many people managers. It is worth noticing the peer pressure to conform to certain behaviours that we might not be individually comfortable with.

5. Culture

How do we shape our culture and brand as an employer? As our lives outside of work become more visible to colleagues, it encourages us to be more personable, authentic, vulnerable and fallibly human. Investment in creating amazing and enriching workspace will be considered a trademark of the company and a benefit for those who work there.

‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue
‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue

Top 10 of employees wants for the future

  • Keeping time and energy for hobbies, family, and friends (66%)
  • Generally feeling productive and able to get things done (61%)
  • Face to face time with my team (57%)
  • Random chats with colleagues outside of my team (50%)
  • Feeling that both me and my work efforts are visible (40%)
  • Feeling more ‘in the loop’ on what is happening in the organisation (39%)
  • Developing new skills or practices to support hybrid working (31%)
  • Feeling connected to my organisation’s brand and culture (30%)
  • A ‘reset’ as a team to recognise new dynamics or ways of working together (29%)
  • Opportunity to be outdoors during my working days (29%)
‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue
‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue

Analysis

Reflecting on the findings, Kelly Drewery, from Talent Glue, asked: “Are we 'wasting a good crisis' - a chance for positive change to our working lives, one that has more balance with our home lives, our wellbeing, and where we spend our energy?

“This research really highlighted for me how much we gain personally from the workplace and equally the benefits from working from home. Hybrid working seems like a sensible solution for many who have jobs where this is possible. However, have we missed a trick somewhere?

“Although it’s nice to reorganise our diaries so we can meet with colleagues when we're in the office, could we demand something more radical in our relationship with work and the workplace? I hope that both individuals and organisations will be brave and bold in seeking better balance in the way we work.”

Lizzie Bradbury, from COEL, added: "For our generation we are in a unique moment in time to take stock and change the way we work.

“Kelly and I are so grateful to all who took part in the survey and shared their thoughts and experiences; their input has been invaluable. COEL prides itself on delivering bespoke workplace solutions for our clients' needs; this research has intrinsically revealed what organisations and individuals have experienced as well as their hopes and needs for the future.

“This information is vital in designing for future workplaces which propagate employee and organisational health, productivity and wellbeing.”

‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue
‘The new way we work’research results. Graph: COEL and Talent Glue

Want to follow up?

For help on designing or implementing any of the themes in this research, or explore how to make hybrid working a success in your organisation, contact kelly@talentglue.com or hello@coel.uk.com.

Read more

Adapting to new ways of working: Four case studies from Cambridge

COEL and Talent Glue Business Psychology team up to research the way we work



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