Posted: 08 Dec. 2020 12 min. read

Elevating the Workforce Experience: The Places Relationship

Workplace experience design in the "new" normal

Elevating the Workforce Experience: Part 3

Deloitte's Workforce Experience by Design practice uses human-centered, equity-based design to understand workers like we do customers and design experience solutions that cultivate trust and loyalty. We define workforce experience as "the sum of a human’s lived experiences at work and how they feel about their organization" and believe there are eight key relationships that influence a worker's experience at an organization - two of which have been newly incorporated into our leading practice perspective. These elements include a worker's relationship with the work they do, the people they work with, the places they work, the technology they use, the organization they work for, their personal well-being, their sense of belonging, and the growth that delivers value to their career. A worker's sense of belonging and their growth are two new additions to highlight how organizations can foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities for the worker (belonging) and portable value beyond a worker's lived experiences (growth).

Although it may seem that the days of a conventional workplace are gone, the physical places where work is conducted continues to play an essential role in driving a positive workforce experience. The workplace is a medium through which an organization can uniquely foster (and change) its culture.1,2,3 How, then, can an organization enhance the workplace to provide an elevated workforce experience?

In this post, we will explore the third of the core attributes for elevating the workforce experience – Places. The Place relationship pertains to the physical spaces in which work gets done. This relationship is impacted by six influencers, which work in tandem to drive the workforce experience:

Adaptability spaces – The adaptability of the workplace to adjust and extend beyond the confines of a physical workspace or set up.

As remote work and contract workers are becoming increasingly more prevalent, leaders are faced with the challenge of engaging a workforce that may not share a physical site or be located in a similar geography. In cases like these, it is essential that companies become adaptable, both in terms of the physical working arrangements and the ways in which workers interact with one another.

The benefits of adaptability in physical work arrangement is well documented. The option for employees to be mobile or remote can yield more efficiency and higher employee satisfaction.4 This is because some people work best in traditional workplace layouts, whereas others may be more productive in another context.5 As organizations adjust to a ‘new normal’, good workplace design allows for transitions between ways of working – leveraging digital tools that allow teams to continue to work effectively and act decisively regardless of workspace set up.6

Accessible Tools – The access to tools that equip the workspace, enable work anytime and anywhere, enhance work, and reduce the hassle.

Beyond collaboration, technology and digital tools provide workers the ability to conduct critical activities away from a desk or out in the field. As such, it is imperative that workers have remote access to tools that enable collaboration anytime and anywhere. Luckily, there are countless cloud-based platforms, digital devices, and technological solutions that allow for employees to work, regardless of site location or time zone. Therefore, tool rationalization and integration will be critical to a good vs. overwhelming experience. And it is vital for leaders and managers to still be trained in team-building and be empowered to create a community that fosters teamwork. At either end of the workspace spectrum, it is important for organizations to acquire and maintain those technologies that support their employees, accelerate high-quality work, and nourish the human need for connection.

Safety - The creation of a safe and secure environment (both physically and mentally) where workers feel comfortable and can focus on work.

Building safe and positive workspaces can reduce chronic stress and ensuing physiological consequences, such as higher levels of cortisol and increased risk of heart disease.7 Furthermore, the creation of a safe and secure environment where workers feel comfortable is essential, especially when maintaining a positive workforce experience during moments of crisis.8 In a pandemic environment, for instance, health and safety protocols to minimize exposure to illness must be a top priority in workforce planning. However, designing the workplace environment is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor; safety can look very different in an industrial or manufacturing setting than in an office. Leaders must continue to monitor and listen with compassion to the safety needs of workers. Ultimately, customers, workers, and the business all benefit when the physical environment is created with workers’ needs and safety in mind.

Dedicated Spaces – The designation of spaces for clear purposes: Teaming, “deep” work, well-being, and networking and connecting

It’s natural to assume that the amount of time a worker utilizes the workspace is what drives engagement and performance. In actuality, mere access to these dedicated workspaces may be most important. Consider that in organizations that offer coworking spaces, only 14% of employees make use of them.9 Yet, simply having access to these spaces is associated with a 12% to 16% increase in employee performance.10 Moreover, companies can elevate their workforce design and productivity one site at a time by providing workers access to dedicated spaces such as break rooms away from working areas, wellness spaces for recuperation, or private rooms for work and personal conversations.

Flexibility - The ability of the worker to determine where and when they work

Research has shown that flexibility in the physical workplace improves employee productivity, increases job satisfaction, and lowers workplace stress.11,12,13 In addition, workers with flexible work arrangements report being more satisfied, are judged to be better performers and are more likely to view their company as innovative when compared to competitors.14 Even seemingly minimal shifts towards a flexible work environment can yield big results. In some cases, companies have witnessed increased employee engagement and job satisfaction after simply providing employees with the option of selecting their preferred meeting space or desk configuration.15

A flexible workspace can empower workers to utilize the space for their activity needs, whether it’s for heads-down time, moments to socialize and openly collaborate with others, or simply to deal with personal matters as they arise. Remote workdays, for those who are able, also help workers balance different tasks and prioritize those activities that require in-person meetings. By providing flexibility in the workspace, companies can meet their employees where they are and enable creativity, confidence, and pride in the organization.

Design – The design of the workspace that accommodates the personal and work needs of the workforce

Lastly, the design of a workspace to flex with the various needs of the workforce promotes a dynamic work environment. For instance, organizations can leverage mobile applications to enable activity-based working – where there is no allocated office and rather workers can use a mobile app to find free desks, parking spaces, or even report issues to the facilities team. Organizations may also utilize data analytics to generate insights about lighting, printer, and desk usage; continuously improving operations and a better understanding of which working environments are most effective.16

In summary, an organization’s workplace influences the day-to-day workforce experience in a significant way. Organizations should identify ways to provide their workforces with access to flexible work arrangements and tools both inside the office and out. By designing a safe workplace that adapts to the needs of workers, organizations can help ease workers’ transitions to new and innovative ways of working, especially during moments of crisis. 


Steve Hatfield is a Principal in Deloitte Consulting and serves as the global leader for Future of Work. He has more than 20 years of experience advising global organizations on issues of strategy, innovation, organization, people, culture, and change. Hatfield has advised business leaders on a multitude of initiatives including activating strategy, defining a preferred future, addressing workforce trends, implementing agile and resilient operating models, and transforming culture oriented to growth, innovation, and agility. He is a regular speaker and author on the Future of Work, and is currently on the Deloitte leadership team, shaping the research and marketplace dialogue on the future workforce and workplace trends and issues.

Maribeth Sivak is a Specialist Leader in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients implement design thinking to reimagine and redefine the workforce experience. What makes her unique is her ability to thread workforce experience through solutions from strategy to design through implementation to deliver a transformative workforce experience and business results.

Jen Guo is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients envision, redesign, and organizationally manage their ideal employee experience. Jen uses her Ph.D. in Psychology to provide insights on employee needs, better understand pain-points, and deliver a successful change program for cross-industry clients.

Seth Stancroff is an Analyst in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. He is interested in helping clients design and implements programs to elevate their workforce experiences


Serraview, “Why the Physical Workspace Is the Backbone of Corporate Work Environment and Culture,” backbone-corporate-culture
2 Kahler Slater, “Design Matters – The Role of the Physical Workplace in Being a Best Company,” the-role-of-the-physical-workplace-in-being-a-best-company.
4 Gensler, “What Workplace Amenities Perform Best?”, US Workplace Survey 2019,
7 Diane Hoskins, “Employees Perform Better When They Can Control Their Space,” Harvard Business Review, January 16, 2014, employees-perform-better-when-they-can-control-their-space.
8 Elevating the Workforce Experience: Well-being | Deloitte US
9 Gensler, “14% of Corporate Workers Use Coworking Spaces Regularly,” US Workplace Survey 2019, workers-use-coworking-spaces.
10 Ibid.
11 OstermanCron, “Workplace design impacts employee well-being and productivity.”
12 Limeade Marketing, “Does Your Physical Work Environment Support Well-Being Improvement?”, March 16, 2017, en/2017/03/physical-work-environment-support-well-improvement.
13 Hoskins, “Employees Perform Better When They Can Control Their Space.”
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.

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Denise Moulton

Denise Moulton

VP │ Human Capital Insights Lead

Denise lives for the “a-ha!” moment. A hands-on leader who serves up insights that make sense in the flow of conversation, she works to help clients understand who workers are and what they can contribute. After all, what’s better than watching someone realize their full potential? Denise leverages her history as a practitioner in the talent space to get to the bottom of talent leaders’ problems, turn an empathetic ear to organizational challenges, and zero in on the outcomes that matter most in a dynamic world of work. At home, she is an all-in mom for her two kids and rescue pup. Denise holds a BA in English and has completed coursework towards a Master's in labor relations and human resources from the University of Rhode Island.

Julie Hiipakka

Julie Hiipakka

Vice President | Learning Research Leader

Julie Hiipakka is a leader in our workforce transformation offering focused on skills-based organizations and workforce development. Prior to her current focus on helping clients implement skills-based talent practices, she led the Learning & Leadership research practice for Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital Research and Sensing offering. She advises clients on learning, workforce architecture, enabling worker and leader performance in the flow of work. A change agent, thought leader and advocate for human-centered work, workforce and workplace practices, Hiipakka has 24 years of experience across learning and development, talent management, and professional services, including as a learning leader in a professional services firm.