Physical and Digital Spaces Converge: Redefining Brand Relationships with Customers and Employees

October 12, 2020by Katie WagnerLeadership and StrategyThe EX RoundupInternal Communications

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Our September edition of the EX Roundup covers how the new normal is reshaping employee experiences. Among the employee experience changes are workspaces. We take a look at what merging physical and digital touchpoints means to both brands and employees.

Workspaces Take the Shape of Hybrid

As many of us have already experienced, the common practice of social distancing has rapidly redefined how we work. Many employees have already settled into the new normal of working remotely. As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, organizations have been planning for a longer-term solution. Much of this thinking has been dedicated to redesigning employee experience touchpoints into hybrid workspaces, blending remote work with office work.

Working remotely has proven useful for a majority of employees, giving them freedom to work when and where they prefer. However, remote work isn’t without its disadvantages: household distractions, spotty Wi-Fi connections, IT issues and socioeconomic and racial disparities. Moving forward, brands need to be thoughtful in redesigning employee experiences—both physically and digitally—while enabling employees to work successfully and collaboratively.

Culture Tenets Give Structure

Now more than ever, brands must give deeper consideration to their employees’ experiences. Organizations need to ensure the tenets that made their culture successful—be it purpose, values, etc—remain when redesigning workspaces to adapt to the new normal. And much of this change has to also take into account what employees are needing even more now in addition to meaning—safety, security, connection and community. To be effective, organizations have to actively listen to and involve employees in redesigning workplace experiences—virtually and physically.

 Building Culture Into Workspaces

As remote work has become more commonplace, brands are at risk of jeopardizing their culture. Relationship-building and an overarching sense of belonging quickly diminish when employees adopt a remote work routine. Disconnected employees can lead to an increase in turnover and a drop in work performance. To mitigate culture issues, leaders need to measure the effectiveness of key employee experiences to see whether they are driving engagement and connection. These metrics can then help inform redesigning a physical and virtual work strategy, helping the brand cultivate a stronger culture with employees.

Why the Future of Work Might be ‘Hybrid — BBC, Christine Ro @BBC
“Even before Covid-19, she believed that organisations needed to rethink practices that were conventional but not efficient, like taking a flight for a two-hour meeting. ‘It just takes a little creativity and comfort, getting used to a new way of doing things. And so for me the silver lining in the pandemic is that it has forced organisations to find ways to do that. And I really hope they never go back, because for people’s wellbeing, work-life balance, etc., it just really is better to have this kind of flexibility.’”

Remote Work: Is It a Virtual Threat to Your Culture? — Gallup, Jake Herway @GallupWorkplace
“Organizations need to know more than how to describe their culture. They need to know the drivers of the culture—the values, beliefs, traditions, structures, unwritten rules, behaviors and the repeated moments that make up the employee experience and create the culture. These culture drivers either help or hinder employees’ ability to perform.”

We Need to Rethink Employee Experience — SmartBrief, Denise Lee Yohn @SmartBrief @deniseleeyohn
Now more than ever, we need to be listening to our employees and learning their needs and expectations. And we need to ensure we are hearing from different groups within our workforce so we understand the differences between them. For example, parents with school-aged children face unique challenges, and Black employees may want to be engaged differently…Plus, we should involve them in the development and testing of EX strategies, tactics and programs. They can provide valuable insights about what’s working, what not and why.”

How companies are preparing employees for long-term work-from-home — CNBC, Jennifer Liu @CNBCMakeIt @jljenniferliu
“To sustain employees’ decisions to continue remote work, Feather has since broadened their weekly food credit to a flat $100 monthly stipend that can be used on food as well as office supplies, up to 25% of a Wi-Fi bill or additional computer hardware, such as a keyboard, mouse or headphones. Ragland says he intends to use the credit toward his internet bill: “It’s a huge help to have a monthly expense reduced, especially since other bills at home have gone up because we are home so much more”

The Workforce Is About to Change Dramatically — The Atlantic, Derek Thompson @TheAtlantic
“What’s more, for many workers, their emotional relationships with colleagues have changed because their spatial relationships with those colleagues have changed. Many white-collar companies have become virtual group chats punctuated by Zooms. This is not business as usual. Online communications can be a minefield for mutual understanding, as Bill Duane, a former Google engineer and a corporate consultant, told me.”

Dispatch X September Edition

This was an excerpt from the latest edition of Dispatch X from Liquid—an informative hub featuring insights on brand experience, customer experience and employee experience. This month’s edition highlights articles that explain “Why the Future of Work Might Be Hybrid” and tackle the subject of “Remote Work Virtual Threat to Culture.”

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Katie Wagner

Katie’s passion and experience in building authentic brands has enabled her to serve in a trusted agency-side role as part practice lead, part agency team leader and overall strategic advisor. She draws on her diverse background to ensure that the agency is doing the right work in support of culture design and employee experience, so that it resonates with her clients’ brand objectives and positively impacts their employees, customers and business.