Nestlé serves up new survival tips for employers in ever-changing workplace

Nestlé Coffee Partners has brought together world-leading experts to help employers adapt working environments to reduce staff turnover and improve productivity.

The days of full-time office working are gone and a hybrid model of ‘office-home working’ is now on trend presenting employers with a new set of challenges.

As employees start leaving their jobs in droves in the ‘Great Resignation’, businesses are urgently seeking ways to raise staff morale and reduce turnover within this new working paradigm.

To address this, Nestlé Coffee Partners, part of Nestlé Professional, has been talking with world-leading experts to identify key focus areas for employers, enabling them to rapidly adapt working environments and engage and enthuse their workforce, while at the same time boosting productivity.

According to productivity experts such as Despina Katsikakis, to boost productivity, employees need a combination of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Remote working may have given the workforce greater autonomy in most cases, but the office environment has become more important than ever as a place for enabling mastery and instilling purpose.

A shared physical space gives employees the chance to collaborate and connect to learn from each other, as well as inspire one another and creatively brainstorm while at the same time tuning in to their organisation’s overarching objectives and goals.

Despite this, employers are struggling to keep up, repeatedly adapting working environments to meet workforce needs in the ‘new normal’. This could explain why almost a quarter of workers plan to change employers in 3 - 6 months.

To help businesses adapt and thrive in this new way of working, Nestlé Coffee Partners has been talking with world-leading experts in its Smart Coffee podcast series.

So far, the podcast has interviewed Despina Katsikakis, Global Lead at Total Workplace, Cushman & Wakefield; Dr Fiona Kerr, Founder & CEO at the NeuroTech Institute, and Simon French, workplace and design director at Glaxo SmithKline’s Worldwide Real Estate & Facilities.

From this insight, the series has identified five ways in which businesses can adapt. The resulting office spaces will enable businesses to boost creativity and morale through improved connection with colleagues, while at the same time, enhancing productivity and stimulating flow states through smart design.

1. Make sure employees feel trusted and have choice
Organisational leaders play a critical role communicating this through encouraging greater autonomy – whether this is through working from home, or devolved decision making.

Dr Fiona Kerr said, “A leader who shows respect, high trust, allows decision making, gives resources and invites people to be intuitive around what they think, brings wisdom to the fore; such support, open communication and understanding shown makes people flourish.”

Despina Katsikakis added, “A lot of factors around productivity are around management behaviour, the ability to motivate and inspire people at work.”

2. Understand that this is a change journey
It is not just about changing physical space but also changing behaviours.

Kerr said, “Organisations need to adapt to how people will work differently to align the space to those new behaviours and to focus on creating dynamic ways to reinforce serendipitous connection as this is a key reason to go to the office - the powerful cognitive and chemical synchronization of physically sharing space that humans are built for, that creates profound positive impacts on how we think, work and feel.”

3. Entice employees into the office with compelling experiences
This might be training to encourage mastery, collaborative teamwork, stimulating events or simply great coffee bringing people together.

Katsikakis said, “Community, mentorship, knowledge-sharing and wellbeing have suffered significantly because of remote working. Younger generations are struggling the most, and the realisation of the office’s role in providing these is coming to light. Autonomy has held up throughout the pandemic, but interaction has struggled. The future office needs to be a social place of interaction and connectivity.”

Despina continued, “Buildings are at the heart of the wellbeing solution. We spend 90% of our time indoors. Natural light, quality of air, sensory and acoustic controls and environmental factors are critical to our performance as well as operational policies such as amenities and services, and how we move through the day.”

4. Encourage breaks from technology
Poor productivity and distraction often result from too much time looking at devices. In fact, Nestlé Coffee Partners research revealed that the average employee wastes three hours on unproductive online behaviour during the working week, chatting with friends and family, consuming content and even shopping.

The survey also found that almost one in four (24%) employees spend time staring into space. This isn’t necessarily wasted time; it can be vital for helping them process information and to achieve a flow state: heightened concentration and enjoyment for specific tasks.

Breaks are good for productivity, but there are other ways to encourage these – for teams and for individual activities.

Kerr said, “When you do look out the window or go for a walk it’s a key part of flow – it allows your brain to relax, pick out bits you want to focus on and put it all together.'

Having a coffee is another way to take a break and boost that flow. Seven out of ten employees (70%) agree that after a coffee they feel they have better work ideas and are more productive. In fact, when asked what makes internal work meetings with colleagues more productive, three out of ten (30%) employees said having access to refreshments e.g., coffee or tea.

5. Inspire serendipitous connection through workplace attractors
Also known as the water cooler effect[6], workplace attractors encourage innovation and productivity through sparking cross-functional conversations and connections. Whether they are break rooms, water coolers or coffee areas, they curate and facilitate the flow of people by encouraging movement through a space.

David Basson, Head of Beverages at Nestlé Professional, said his team is often asked to advise on the optimal placement for coffee machines. “We now work in a multichannel environment – home, office, co-working – and have to make the office attractive to make people want to go there.

'We need to bring teams together and promote face-to-face interaction while they are in the office, and this is something we help businesses with through the strategic placement of coffee points.”

Kerr added, “The water cooler or coffee point in the office is the place that create serendipitous connection. This creates a recipe for high-trust, high-collaboration and high-creativity.”