Workspace Design Working Group | Hosted by UnitedHealth Group | October 3, 2019 | Eden Prairie, MN

Thursday | October 03, 2019

United Health Group logo

LOCATION:  UnitedHealth Group | 11000 Optum Circle | Eden Prairie, MN  55344

Many large companies are moving towards or thinking about implementing open workplace/workspace designs in many of their office buildings.  For some organizations, this move has been driven as a means to decrease real estate costs by decreasing the square footage to employee ratio.   Other companies have seen the move to more open workplace design as a way to positively impact the employee experience and create an environment that may be more attractive to Millennial employees, to drive a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration, and innovation, or to increase transparency and enhance communications across levels.  While the move towards more open space designs is a growing trend, there is little research to suggest that these more open designs are leading to desired outcomes.  In fact, recent studies seem to suggest that more open designs can have a negative impact on employee engagement and productivity, can increase employee stress, and potentially is related to lower volume of face-to-face communications between employees. 

I this working group, we will look to share knowledge, experiences and best practices on an array of topics related to implementing more open workplace designs.  As with all CAHRS working groups, the session is intended to be an open discussion among the participants with a chance for participants to help shape the direction of the discussion.  With that in mind, we will discuss the topics below but also leave plenty of time for other topics to emerge over the course of the day:

  • To what extent is the HR function helping to shape decisions on workplace/workspace design and how are they partnering with other parts of the organization (real estate, facilities, finance) to choose between different design options?
  • What is the intent and goals for the new workplace design and how are you measuring the extent to which you are impacting those outcomes?
  • What has been your experience with the move to new office designs? How are employees reacting and do you see differences across employee groups, demographics, etc.?
  • What have been the biggest challenges in moving to a more open environment?  What are the key pain points that the company and employees have felt?
  • What change management activities have you implemented to help employees navigate and perform successfully in the new office environment that you have put in place?  What types of training, norm setting, etc. have you seen increase the success or minimize the negative impact of the move to the new open environment?
  • To what extent did you use design thinking or other user experience tools to help shape design choices, implementation, etc.?

The sessions are free of charge to CAHRS partner firms. To effectively create the right environment and to ensure free and open discussion, we limit the size of the meeting to 25 participants. The best fit for the meeting would be members of the HR team who have responsibilities for workplace design, who have been involved in rolling out a new workplace design or managing the change effort to support the move, or who have broad responsibilities for the employee experience which might include thinking about the impact of space on employees. The Working Group will start with a continental breakfast from 8:30-9:00am and then will run until 3:00pm with a working lunch.

Cornell Discussion Leader:
Chris Collins is Associate Professor of Human Resource Studies at the Cornell ILR School.

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