The Future of Workspace — Insights From Nick Iovacchini

This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Workspace Series which features interviews with a wide range of professionals and thought leaders to learn more about the future of office space and how the workplace experience will evolve. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Nick Iovacchini, CEO of KettleSpace.

What will be the 3 biggest lasting changes to the workplace caused by COVID?

Over the last year, many of us have experienced the upside of remote work mixed with the downside of simply WFH. It’s clear that people don’t want to be at home every day, nor do they want to be in the office every day. Companies that succeed in finding new equilibriums that balance on-site work, off-site work, and safety concerns will ultimately create advantages when competing for talent. Coordinating schedules for teams using company facilities can ensure less crowding among employees and accurate data collection, reducing the overall chances of potential COVID transmission and increasing a company’s ability to react appropriately in the event there is a reported infection.

With the future of workplaces shifting to hybrid, it’s critical that leaders are enabled to plan and know who is located where and when. As a result, they’ll need the proper framework and goals in place to do so. With these capabilities leaders and teams can ensure there’s continuity between meetings on zoom, in person, or across mixed modalities. With this framework in place together with team members being generally satisfied with their work-life balance, leaders will have support from their teams.

The pandemic has reshaped employee expectations around the workplace — and Gen Z, which has always valued flexibility and choice, is now demanding that from their employers. They want a ‘hybrid’ model of working — designed to support them whether they’re remote or in-office. A recent Microsoft study explains why, with Gen Z respondents more likely to feel the impact of isolation while working from home. For that reason, the freedom and support enabled through a hybrid approach is much more attractive and empowering — and employers must take note. 

What workplace technologies will be the most important in the years ahead?

A hybrid infrastructure includes more obvious communication and collaboration tools that are key for employees to manage and track projects; but also more sophisticated technologies to coordinate and measure hybrid preference among employees and leadership. With the right tools, a hybrid work model will help business leaders manage talent and employee engagement with the same rigor, depth and transparency as they are used to. With real infrastructure in place, employers and employees can work together to coordinate in-office and remote activities, gather data on what’s working, and over time optimize for the ideal blend of hybrid.

What will the workplace of the future look like?

Hybrid is here to stay! This is a true sea change moment in which more than 50% of the global workforce will be impacted. A thoughtful hybrid model cuts across a myriad of layers within an organization including: HR policies, talent advantages, employee experience considerations, real estate + facilities, culture, productivity, engagement, and change management. With this much complexity, solution providers need to take a 360 approach and work closely with leadership to understand goals and relevant KPIs across the organization.

Beyond flexibility and choice, hybrid work also helps employers deliver on several other key Gen Z values. For example,58% consider work-life balance one of their top-3 incentives when looking for a job, which is one of the most significant benefits of a hybrid work model. At the same time, Gen Z seeks out more inclusive and environmentally conscious companies. A hybrid workplace checks all of these boxes, allowing for more diversity in hiring while helping to reduce a company’s carbon footprint and optimize their use of physical space.

What can organizations do to prepare for this new future?

It all starts with accepting the fact that this is going to be an evolving landscape filled with discovery and adjustments. Companies that will do this well, will really lean into that concept. This change is so big and so new, that no company is going to get it perfectly right on their first pass. The key is to establish clarity — what’s a choice, what’s a rule, gather the right data, test, learn, communicate, and iterate. 

Not having goals in place and the ability to track and measure the right data with respect to the hybrid model is probably the biggest pitfall we see. Organizations must have access to insights on where/when people are working so they can optimize for the best blend of hybrid to meet engagement and productivity goals. Ultimately, hybrid is designed to benefit an organization, either through happier, safer and more productive employees, cost savings on real estate and physical space, or in other ways. But organizations must have a rubric in place to make sure their hybrid model is tracking back to key objectives and delivering ROI.