The key elements of creating a great workplace experience

About Anders G. Hansen

ISS' Anders Gjørup Hansen has more than 15 years of experience working in the Service and Hospitality industry. Currently, Anders spends a lot of his time exploring the world of Service Design and how that plays in building a valuable workplace.

In a world where the competitive advantage no longer is limited to a profit over cost calculation but has expanded in its ability to attract, motivate and retain top talents – thinking about our offices as “work spaces” is no longer sufficient.

Even though the workplace as a topic is exciting – let’s switch focus for just a little while and dream ourselves away from our desks an into a restaurant environment.

I’m one of the people that enjoy to go out for dinner. When I do go out -  I spend quite some time to research the perfect spot, secure just the right table and make sure to have a great baby sitter to take care of my children (it usually gets long). The rare times I have the chance to go out like this, I’m out for the real thing.  I’m expecting the waitress to recommend me the best wine, the chef to spoil my taste buds with amazing food and the bartender to prepare me just the right post-dinner drink.

Luckily not everyone is like me and I’m not like everyone.

There are people that enter the exact same restaurant with the only purpose to pick up their favorite foods and indulge it in the comfort of their home. For others, the restaurant only represents a quick stop on their fully packed night-out agenda.

Now for most people, a restaurant is not a place where we spend the most of our time. A workplace is.

But the concept is the same.

Identify the workplace archetypes

Just like the restaurant – the workplace represents a gathering point for many different people with different behaviors and needs. Even though all people are different, you’ll often experience that some similarities between certain groups of people persist. We like to call these groups of people with similar behavior patterns, needs and preferences; archetypes.

To create excellent workplace experiences; one of our keys must be to successfully identify the diverse archetypes that are present in our respective offices – map their behavior and understand where we can create the single biggest emotional difference.


When focusing on creating great workplace experiences the worst you can do is not to pay attention to the diverse needs that are present in a workplace environment.

For once, we must put our heavy excel sheets and surveys aside and do what separates us as humans from all other species on earth – the ability to empathize.

Empathizing with the end-users allows us, like nothing else, to understand where we can make the single biggest difference in their everyday life and thus – how we can connect with our workplace users on an emotional level.

For some archetypes – the way a workplace can make the single biggest difference in their life is to help balance their family and work life by offering daycare, children pick-up or babysitting services. For others, the opportunity gap can lie in something as simple as creating quiet zones or private spaces that ensure no-disturbance. For the “foodaholics”  a shorter waiting line in the canteen is what can make reverse their experience from being good to become perfect.

The bottom line is that it is when we connect with our end-users on an emotional level –  that we move the workplace from just being a place where we perform our tasks – to a place where we come for a valuable experience.

Apply human-centered design thinking

To understand the employee journey and detect which specific services you need to work with, Service Design as a method can be extremely useful to apply.

Through its enormous focus on empathy, Service Design creates the foundation for ensuring that all parts of the employee journey are analyzed with respect to the individual personas or archetypes occupying the same workplace.

These personas or archetypes, with their subsequent working journeys and touchpoints, may all have different service preferences and service needs. As a methodology, Service Design, works to help us identify employee preferences and needs as well as employee expectations vs. the actual employee experience (opportunity gap) and enable us to prioritize our service in areas where they create the biggest value.

For us as Service providers, this design thinking helps us to prioritize where and where not to put in the extra effort and thereby optimize our resources.

It nevertheless helps us to be less service-specific and more human-centered. It all lies in the ability to build our services around humans rather than facilities.

So what about you? Are you ready to focus less on the building – and more on the people?

Want to learn more about the future of service? Download our white book on the topic below.