vol. 32 Resilience at Work: Fostering a Future-Ready Workforce [Part 3]

Resilience at Work-3

Work from Anywhere Ecosystem Resources
Work from Anywhere is the ecosystem that gives organizations and employees choice in where and when work occurs. Start by looking at the ecosystem as a whole: office, home, and third places. Then, with an emphasis on the office as a hub, optimize spaces there for activities that foster interaction, collaboration, and creativity to drive innovation. Flexible workplaces enable space to change as rapidly as people and organizations require. The office floorplate needs to respond—creating environments that provide physical and virtual connection and adapt for occupancy levels. This approach supports organizational culture and employee well-being, so people can work fluidly between the office, home, and third places.

Workplace resources, then, can be found anywhere we do our work. Since constructive resources and energies reside in ourselves, workplace resources should capture objects and conditions where we work as well as the social support available to us.

Objects and Conditions of the Workplace
Unlike social support, which can vary over time, objects and conditions are longer lasting and less subject to change. While both external and more stable, object resources and condition resources apply differently to work.

First, conditions are about the broader society in which an individual lives and works. For example, financial security, where they live, and cultural systems impact employees’ lives. These are a bit more difficult for an organization to influence because different individuals live in different conditions, as well as have different perceptions of those conditions. Employees’ communities also offer spaces outside of homes and the worksite—third spaces—where remote work may be done.

Third spaces where people may work, such as local cafes or public libraries, are becoming more prominent in the Work from Anywhere ecosystem and would contribute to condition resources as well.

Organizations have more control over object resources which includes the built environment where work is performed, and the physical properties of it can either cause stress or mitigate it. Specific design criteria can manage resource threats in the workplace and support resource gains. When leveraged appropriately, they facilitate resource usage for better work performance or facilitate resource gain by replenishing spent personal energies.

Workplace & Work Point Design as Resources
For easier understanding, we have designated a number of “workplace design resource categories,” which house similar clusters of design criteria affecting an individual’s resources. These categories include work point user control, access to colleagues, technology and tools, space variety, ambient qualities, and legibility. Specific design criteria that affect similar resources are categorized together.

User Control
Adjustable surface, chair, task lighting, vertical screens, speech privacy

Accessibility of Coworkers
Proximity to coworkers for access and duration of interaction

Tools & Tech
Task-specific tools and collaborative technology

Space Variety
Work point choice, access to restorative/social/collaborative spaces

Ambient Qualities
Air quality, access to daylight, nature and natural elements, thermal comfort, freedom from noise

Visual access to coworkers, ease of navigation, architectural differentiation
*not applicable to off-site work

Workplace & Work Point Design as Resources

Social Support in the Workplace
One potential source of stress at work can come from employees’ relationships with one another. Mistrust and tense relationships between coworkers and superiors lead to stress and potential resource losses. Conversely, a supportive culture and relationships can help mitigate stress within individuals—especially if a person experiences psychological safety at work. As a collective resource, policies, norms, behaviors, and relationships at work are relatively more changeable than other resources.

Organizational Culture as a Resource
At the highest level, is an individual’s appreciation for and alignment with their organization’s culture. Employees tend to be very perceptive of their organization’s culture, and attuned to the company’s values, whether they are openly stated or not. People are well aware of patterns of basic organizational assumptions and values, and they seek employment from organizations that have cultures they mesh well with.

When aligned, an organization’s values and outcomes increase trust and effort among employees, leading to better performance for individuals and the organization. When misaligned, employees disconnect psychologically, and engagement can drop. For example, in June 2020, the US saw a drop in engaged employees and an increase in those not engaged, while actively disengaged employees remained steady. This drop was likely due to organizations’ lack of clarity around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wake of societal unrest following the death of George Floyd, compounded by the pandemic, its resulting unemployment, and attempts to re-open some businesses. This illustrates how conditions can influence how we see available resources. As such, an individual’s perceptions about their organization—in terms of culture and trust in its decision-making—is very important to their potential for resource gains and losses.

Of course, also extremely important in the workplace is an employee’s relationships with coworkers, including their superiors and supervisors. Social support resources, like trust and respect from coworkers, are very important to positive performance outcomes. Therefore, organizations should facilitate norms that encourage trustworthiness and respect among all levels of coworkers in addition to discouraging toxic behaviors. Examples may include executives regularly communicating with employees, and having their offices in easily accessible, highly visible locations. Research also suggests employees perceiving their leaders as competent and selfless leads directly to increased psychological safety and improved team performance.

Policies as Resources
Policies and procedures can be resources to the individual for mitigating stressors as well. Many organizations are wrestling with policies over flexible scheduling and availability of remote work. Giving employees decision-making ability over their schedules and mobility can provide employees the discretion to manage both work and personal life needs. For example, with flexible schedules and mobility scheduling, personal responsibilities such as healthcare appointments or caring for children or aging parents would allow employees to work around those other needs. Otherwise, they’d spend less time on their tasks and would need to use personal time off. If these kinds of policies are in place for all, those with disabilities could also benefit, since these are among the most frequent accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In general, organizations should think broadly about the ways in which social support resources apply to and affect individuals, as well as their entire workforce. Adapting policies, procedures, and norms to employees’ best interests is ultimately in the best interest of the organization as well.

Resource: Haworth

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