Key Takeaways from WORKTECH’s Chicago Debut

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Michelle Weiss
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Michelle Weiss is our Publisher. She came to us fresh from earning her small business MBA helping to start Make It Better Media, a philanthropy-based digital and print media company in Chicago’s North Shore. Prior to that, she cut her chops in the old Chicago Sun-Times Building back when you would know you’d missed your deadline when the building started shaking each evening as they fired up the presses. She’s based in a suburb of Chicago.

Here are four themes from WORKTECH Chicago to inspire conversations today.

WORKTECH is a global conference and event platform that brings together the best of real estate, technology, and innovation. This summer’s Chicago think tank session topics included the value/purpose of the office and insights into the future workforce. Speakers and panelists included: Bruce Lerner, NA Head of Corporate Real Estate, Zurich; Michelle Myer, VP Americas Real Estate & Facilities, Oracle; Nina Charnotskaia, Director of Corporate Workplace Experience, McDonald’s; Michael Przytula, Managing Director – Intelligent & Digital Workplaces, Accenture; Theresa Broderick, Workplace Strategist, Strategy and Transactions, Ernst & Young; Dipak Sundaram, Executive Director, Advisory Services, Gallup; Lisa Whited, Founder/Chief Transformation Officer, Workplace Transformation Facilitation;  Ed Nolan, Managing Director, Workplace Strategy, JLL; Reed Edwards, Managing Principal, Sterling Bay; Michael Kaiser, Senior VP – Operations, Hines.

Curated here into client-ready talking points, are the four themes of the conference: Bricks & Mortar; Lessons from Returning to the Office; Maslow Meets COVID; the Next Big Things.

1. Bricks & Mortar

Organizations are investing in talent rather than real estate and piloting furniture solutions instead of space reconfigurations. More important than physical amenities are the programs and services to support employees.

Hospitality-like resources, read concierge, are in all our futures.

2. Lessons from Returning to the Office (RTO)

There was a strong trust factor while working from home. Mandates to RTO undermined that trust. Employees show up to the office when their managers are present in person. There continues to be a misalignment on working from home with some employees’ skill sets and job roles.

Want more information on RTO strategies?

WORKTECH Presenters, Dustin A. Jackson, Ph.D. and BHDP’s Samantha Delabar explore ways to rebuild the lost connectedness as workers return to the office HERE.

3. Maslow Meets COVID

Human needs must be heard and satisfied, whether it is evidenced by employee survey responses or the flexibility to RTO on their terms. The desire for an assigned seat, even if you are in meetings all day, is rooted behavior and difficult to overcome.

Don’t give me a happy hour if I can’t find a desk and the WiFi doesn’t connect.

Envoy’s Head of Data Analytics, Jonathon Weindel explaining how to leverage data to create a workplace people love.

4. The Next Big Things

Throughout the day many ideas were shared on what’s ahead and tips for right now. Here’s a list of our favorites:

  • The 2030 workplace will be crisis ready and able to pivot on demand
  • Engage younger leadership earlier
  • Offer mission-based work
  • Embody the circular economy*
  • Have “less concentration on the physical location of the company’s office.”

*We brought some of  WORKTECH Chicago home for you! The always inspiring Author and Workplace Evolutionaries Leader, Lisa Whited, presented her resources for positively impacting climate change.

“Afterall, why are we all talking about how many days per week in the office when there’s a climate crisis at hand?” – Lisa Whited

Want a copy of Lisa’s latest book? Comment below or on our LinkedIn post of this recap for the chance to win a free copy (or you can buy one here).

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