Employee Engagement

Workspace VS workplace: What’s the difference?

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Considering terms like workspace VS workplace can seem like a geeky little semantic game, but in reality, it’s a vital step in addressing the employee experience at your company.

The importance of the spaces, both tangible and intangible, in which employees share their skills and conduct their business every day is pretty immense.

In fact, when you start reading up on the matter, you’ll come across big, serious academic studies that concern workspace design for knowledge exploration, the effects of office layout on job satisfaction, productivity and organisational commitment, and more. Once the academics get involved, it’s a good rule of thumb to assume that there is a lot more to a given topic than meets the eye.

So, let’s break it down by starting with the basic definitions and then take it from there.

Workplace (definition): A workplace is a physical location or space where you meet up with co-workers and managers to do your work. It refers to the collective sphere in which the team gets their work done.

Workspace (definition): A workspace is the space where each individual does their work. It can be a cubicle, a hot desk, a table in your kitchen if you work from home, or a window-side seat in a coffee shop in Obs if you've got hipster leanings.

That’s the basic difference in physical, real-life, brick-and-mortar, office-with-a-lobby-and-a-kitchenette terms. When you move into the digital realm, the same distinctions apply, but with a bit of a twist.

Digital workplace (definition): The digital workplace is the collective spaces a team shares in an online environment, e.g. a collaborative interface like Slack, Trello, Asana etc. Think about it like a digital conference room of sorts, where everyone is engaged simultaneously.

Digital workspace (definition): A digital workspace refers to an employee's personal set of tools that they use to do their job, including their laptop, mobile, specialised software and other programs and devices they require to attend to their tasks.

A workplace is collective and caters to group requirements, a workspace is singular and pertains to the individual.

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Why every business should care about workspaces and workplaces - a study in statstiny

Employee experience should be a top business priority for any business that wants to go the distance. This is not an opinion, it’s fact based on a variety of statistics. Such as:


 READ MORE: 5 Ways employee experience can drive competitive advantage


How to improve your company’s workspaces and workplaces

Now that we've established that physical and digital workspaces and places have a direct impact on business productivity and performance metrics, it only stands to reason that these have to be optimised as far as possible. Here are a few ways to do so:


1. Be open to multiple ways of working 

Employees need spaces to do four distinct things - focus, collaborate, learn and socialise.

To accommodate all four of these modes of working, progressive companies need to create physical and digital spaces that can be shifted and altered to suit the needs of employees who won't necessarily be in the same mode at any given time.

Physically, this means that offices should ideally have completely private spaces where employees can work alone, open, inviting spaces where they can collaborate and enjoy blue-sky sessions, as well as smaller meeting rooms, areas for presentations, and zones for relaxation.

On the digital front, it means that employees should have access to collaborative zones and focussed private time as and when they need.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons why the employee experience should be a top business priority


2. Gather data on how your employees work

The best way to find out what your employees need and want in their workplace and workspace is simply to ask them. Pulse surveys and questionnaires can be very useful in this regard. Alternatively, you can also have one-on-one or group discussions to determine if there's any spatial friction you need to be aware of.

Companies like Mars Drinks took it a step further by using sensors to determine how often their employees' actual desks were in use. The resultant data told them that their employees were spending very little time at their designated workspaces, instead choosing to roam around the office in search of spaces to accommodate different modes of work. This insight was then put to good use in terms of an office redesign.

There you have it - the whole workspace VS workplace debacle untangled once and for all. In the meantime, check out our employee recognition and reward platform, bountiXP, and see how it can improve employee experience without adding any dead weight to your digital HR ecosystem.

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