Over the past year, expectations around work have fundamentally changed. As people start planning their return to the office, the workplace needs to reflect our changed priorities. Organisations which fail to adapt and create the right balance will struggle as their people vote with their feet.

A balanced workplace supports people to lead lives where all aspects of their existence – work, family, friends, hobbies and personal values – feel supported. But what does it actually mean?

Miles McLeod

Workplace Consultant

17th Mar 2021

Balance between office working and home working

Many people want to retain some element of home working post-pandemic while enjoying the ability to come to the office to get team work done. A balanced approach will see a continued option to work from home for at least some of the time.

staff working in office designed for balance

Work-life balance

People used to talk about work and life as two different realms. Even before COVID, the discourse focused on work-life integration and the pandemic has further blurred the lines between work and personal lives. Why shouldn’t people be able to have breakfast with their children, spend more time with an elderly relative or pursue a hobby while still have a fulfilling job? A balanced workplace allows people to bring all aspects of themselves to work.

Balance in corporate values

The pandemic has seen a massive fall in individual and organisations’ carbon footprints thanks to a fall in commuting and closed buildings. At the same time, the focus has been on people’s health and wellbeing. Environmental and wellbeing considerations will be reflected in the balanced workplace.

Balance in the physical office space

The pre-pandemic office was heavily focused around desks but the post-pandemic one needs to be more balanced and take into account all the different activities that happen within its walls. This could include quiet zones, collaboration spaces, refreshment areas, wellbeing spaces, outdoor areas and even well-designed empty space where people can meet serendipitously.

ping pong table pool table in office

Community balance

Many corporates play a central role in their local communities and that will be an essential tenet of the balanced workplace. City centres have suffered enormously during the pandemic and will need corporate support to revitalise them again.

Balance in locations

In addition to offering their people the choice of working in a central office or at home, some larger organisations provide the option of working in regional offices. Often referred to as a ‘hub and spoke’ model, this enables people to benefit from the buzz of an office but with a reduced commute.

office kitchen designed for balance

What benefits will a balanced workplace bring to business?

The past year has refocused people’s minds on what really matters in life – family, friends and community, health and wellbeing, personal fulfilment and individual values. Companies that understand they need to adapt to people’s changed expectations by creating a more balanced workplace will be the ones which are most successful in the post-COVID world, attracting and retaining the best talent.

The promise of a more balanced workplace will help organisations entice staff back to the workplace – particularly those who are reluctant – enabling companies to re-establish their culture, as well as fostering collaboration. It also helps people be highly engaged and productive. It also allows an organisation to contribute to their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) responsibilities.

Organisations which move away from treating their workplace as a cost centre and see it as a business and people enabler, a physical manifestation of their brand, will be the post-pandemic success stories. A balanced workplace approach is a great place to start.

Office fit out lockers meeting pod