Making office life engaging requires good communication
Making office life engaging requires good communication Posted on Oct 28, 2022 By Inigo Melis, Managing Director of 444 Digital Admitting a setback in his long-running battle to bring staff back to the office, Jacob Rees-Mogg recently proposed instead selling £1.5bn worth of underused civil service office stock. Underlying his lack of success is a failure of communication in encouraging employees back into the workplace, exemplified by his condescending "Sorry you were out when I visited" note on the desks of civil servants.
This debate highlights the new challenges businesses face in communicating with a more transient workforce. How can HR and internal comms teams directly reach those present in the office without sending irrelevant e-mails to those working from home, and simultaneously creating a culture of presenteeism? How can technology move us on from the tatty pop-up banner or office noticeboard? Screens are an obvious answer, but too often their potential fails to be maximised, so how can they best be used to hit office workers with relevant and engaging content?
Today, peek into most office receptions up and down the country and you see a familiar sight: state-of-the-art digital screens displaying stock imagery such as pretty landscapes, divorced from brand identity or context, perpetually on repeat. All such a waste of an opportunity to engage, inform and even entertain those working in these buildings as well as clients and visitors.
Along with the Intranet and building apps, digital screens at office receptions can be an invaluable tool to reach out to stakeholders, whether employees or clients. They are highly visible and unlike logging into an Intranet or app, guarantee that they will be seen. However, the mistake most decision-makers make is assuming that a screen guarantees engagement, with the focus going on the expensive pieces of hardware and little thought into the platform and content as a result. The result is display hardware that simply plays a few images day in, day out, lacking ambition and creativity.
Rather than a bland ‘screensaver', a varied carousel of specific, timely and engaging content can be created to communicate with a business' employees and clients. For example, we have installed and are managing digital screens across five state-of-the art office buildings in Ashby Capital's portfolio, from The Kensington Building in London to The Future Works in Slough. These screens display a varied deck of occupier-centric content, whether that is promoting onsite events or exclusive partner offers, sharing recycling statistics or promptly delivering operational announcements – all in real time and with minimum onsite effort.
We also have dedicated sustainability screens displaying real-time air quality from sensors in the buildings, helping raise awareness of environmental factors and encouraging tenants into more sustainable behaviours. Visualising air quality in real-time is one example of what data driven digital signage can and should be doing to make buildings better.
It's not just sustainability messaging or air-quality data that can be meaningful content, as screens can also help build workplace communities. Engaging and vibrant content brings people together, such as a digital screen takeover for Pride, or during Wimbledon, where we brought the magic of SW19 into multiple properties including The Leadenhall Building with live scores and updates from the tournament. Simply wishing members of staff happy birthday on a digital screen is a great way of publicly showing appreciation, while beyond personal messages, integrating useful information such as travel issues and weather, is always appreciated.
It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game either. People are receptive to different forms of communication, and so utilising digital screens to push staff towards a workplace app by emphasising its benefits creates a mutually beneficial cycle of engagement. This way, digital screens through an integrated digital platform are a valuable additional tool in a firm's toolbox to help engage with employees, boosting staff morale and retention. With technology improving the ability to communicate and engage with tenants like never before, the only limit to what screens can display in office buildings is imagination, client vision and technical capability.