Contextualizing the Workplace:

Addressing the Influence of National Context on Employee Workplace Preferences

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the notion that workplaces need adjustments to support employees - a heterogenous group of individuals from different cultures, generations, genders, with a myriad of personalities, completing vastly different tasks in varied contexts. Of particular interest in this thesis are the site specific cultural and institutional factors that create national differences. The influence of national context may need to be considered when global workplace strategies are formed in order to adequately address employee needs and preferences. Understanding the effect of national context on employee workplace preferences could foreshadow the acceptance (or lack thereof) of various post-pandemic workplace strategies and allow organizations to implement nuanced and contextualized solutions in the workplace. To answer the research question a literature review, statistical analysis, and expert interviews are completed. A literature review and statistical analysis of employee workplace preference data found similarities and differences in employee workplace preferences across national contexts in this sample. The preference for hybrid working was found across national contexts, while specific preferences relating to workplace components and facilities and services often varied between contexts in this case. Although the data reflected significant differences in employee post pandemic workplace preferences across the national contexts surveyed, it remains inconclusive if these differences can be attributed to national context or a myriad of other factors. In order to understand how workplace strategy may accommodate and better understand national context’s effect on the workplace, nine experts were interviewed. From the interviews a number of recommendations were formed to promote nuanced workplace strategy that responds to national context: 1) convey the benefits of accommodating employees to core organizations; 2) promote flexibility in global workplace strategy; 3) inform workplace strategy by gathering employee sentiment through quantitative and qualitative means; and 4) form workplace strategy with a multidisciplinary team.