The idea of hybrid work — and hybrid office space — is anticipated to become the default model for how many organizations plan their back-to-work strategy. Some companies already had a hybrid approach to working from home and had incorporated remote working policies well before COVID-19. Others had resisted letting employees work from anywhere other than the company office space and found themselves having to dive in and learn how to swim in record time!
Throughout our conversations with senior leaders and industry experts, the use of technology has served a huge role in facilitating remote work by allowing their teams to connect face-to-face, share ideas, and even helping them manage their organization’s allocation of space to employees throughout the pandemic. In an effort to leverage a deeper level of technological expertise, Real Strategy sought out technology consultant and engineer Derrick Hanson, President and Co-Founder of The Attain Group.
Working smarter, not harder
Derrick has been in the cabling infrastructure and telecom business for over two decades, was the founding partner and owner of Netricom (formerly one of Canada’s largest network cabling contractors), and has a wealth of experience working with various government and private sector clients. As a technology shepherd for organizations with a passion for improving the feel of the buildings they reside in, Derrick espoused the following mission statement with respect to post-COVID workplaces:
“It means figuring out how to make the user experience inside a building something better than what we already have at home. We are a professional engineering firm (with most of us having electrical backgrounds) but we think of ourselves as technology engineers that deal with smart stuff.” — Derrick Hanson (President and Co-Founder, The Attain Group)
For Derrick and his team at The Attain Group, their personal journey in exploring hybrid and flexible working arrangements started when they hired an industrial psychologist to do an assessment of their own organization. Each of its employees was surveyed to better understand how feasible the remote work approach would be and what elements would be necessary for a flexible work office environment to be successful.
Derrick explained that the main inspiration behind this effort was the realization that, in looking at the next cohort of workers, there won’t be enough of them to fill the positions of all the retiring Baby Boomers. Figuring out what the next cohorts of younger Millennials and Gen Z workers wanted — like more workplace flexibility — was key to solving this equation. Derrick also identified that organizations will need to adapt to a smaller pool of human resources than what was previously accustomed to.
In essence, it boils down to needing more productivity with fewer players on the roster and embracing a work smarter, not harder mentality. According to Derrick, young people watched their parents toil endlessly following a work, work, work and money-first focus…
“They said to themselves, ‘well that doesn’t look like too much fun’ and wondered if there was something that could be done to change it. At Attain, we currently span five generations so the ability to create a work environment that allowed for that desired flexibility while integrating it within our existing framework was essential.” — Derrick Hanson (President and Co-Founder, The Attain Group)
The outcome of the exercise was a resounding “yes, we can do this!” and technology became the answer as to how it could be done. The focus quickly became getting everything cloud-based, making sure to have the strongest possible internet connection, having all the organization’s systems centralized and online, as well as providing all their employees with amazing video collaboration tools and mirrored setups at home. Whether someone is at home or in the office is almost irrelevant since everyone’s work setups are the same!
“All of our people have good headsets, cameras, and we even created branded virtual backgrounds before that was the thing. I also made the personal decision to ‘drink my own Kool-Aid’ and decided to work from home every Tuesday. Then, when COVID-19 hit, we had already done the transition that everyone else would have to go through but on our own terms!” — Derrick Hanson (President and Co-Founder, The Attain Group)
Make sure to check out part two of our conversation with Derrick from The Attain Group where we look at what the future of office space and flex-work will look like post-COVID from a technology enabled perspective!
At Real Strategy Advisors, we’re always helping our clients make better decisions about their office workplace strategy. We can help you improve employee attraction and retention, increase productivity, satisfaction, and engagement. Contact us today so we chat about your back-to-work strategy and your commercial real estate needs!
Attain provides smart solutions for smart buildings. They provide strategic counsel on all types of technology — IT, AV, wireless networks, security — and the systems that make workplaces work smarter for everyone, no matter where they happen to be!