Rethinking Workplace Experience Management, Post-Pandemic
Melissa Marsh and Jackie Manzer weigh in on experience management in a world where work has diffused beyond the workplace.
In recent years, many organizations have hired managers and directors in charge of the “workplace experience”—hybrid roles combining aspects of human relations and real estate management. But how will these professionals execute their responsibilities in a world where work has diffused beyond the workplace, and any collective experience that employees have is over videoconferencing? Two experts weigh in.
The term “community manager” used to describe people who hosted chat rooms or got moms to blog about diaper brands. These people were usually in a marketing department and were responsible for consumer engagement but in an almost entirely virtual sense. The role of the community manager then got co-opted into physical space and became that of a person who manages a “real-life” community—the experience manager.
Now it’s coming full circle. Experience managers in the physical world are being forced back into managing a digital community.
But no matter the location or technology, employee experience has always been about work-life: Are you doing what you love, and are you accommodated in doing what you need to do? We now have more reason than ever for thinking about the work-life experience holistically and not being so biased about whether we provide support and tools to people through space, through technology, or through culture and interpersonal interaction. If those three things are treated as equally important—as they should be—then this moment needn’t be disruptive. There’s a huge opportunity for returning to work with a new model, an infinitely self-defined blend of work-from-anywhere.
Often, the word “home” unto itself is perceived as diminishing or disparaging in relation to the office. It is associated with taking care of kids or elders. It is rarely considered an optimal environment for crushing it and getting work done. I think that that has to change.
The office can’t be assumed as the default and home as the “other” for working. Work is an activity that can be supported by a variety of spaces, technologies, and interactions with people. Some work is best done in a socially controlled, designed environment, and other work is best done in one that is ad hoc and private.
We aspire to create a premium, hospitality-driven experience at every Convene location. For us, that means anticipating someone’s needs before they’re spoken. From the moment you arrive at one of our locations to the in-between moments enjoying coffee or a chef-crafted lunch, up until you leave, we aim to support our members throughout the workday.
Hospitality at Convene wouldn’t be possible without our team of service professionals—they’re our secret sauce, or “fundamental quality,” if you will. I have a background in real estate and have tracked Convene’s foray into the market closely over the last couple of years, so I was blown away when I arrived at the company to find that the vast majority of my teammates came from backgrounds in hospitality management, technology, and corporate strategy. While we have team members with traditional real estate backgrounds, many of us bring varied expertise and points of view.
In response to COVID-19, we’re continuing to emphasize hospitality while we double down on physical and psychological safety. We’ve created new social protocols and updated our house rules to provide guidelines for behavior in the space, which appear in our new operational standards. These standards describe the steps we’ll need to take to achieve our goal of having the safest workforce in the industry while providing an experience that makes our members feel comfortable and at ease.
“Experience management” in pre-COVID-19 times meant delivering a well-rounded, friction-free workday, and I don’t think that overall goal will change. It might just require a few new tools and innovations: “Friction-free” now means implementing enhanced safety and health measures, delivering tech solutions, and more. We’re working each day to enhance that tool kit.
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