Discussing Future of Work With Michelle Micuda

Discussing Future of Work With Michelle Micuda

We recently conducted an interview with Michelle Micuda, President of Staples Professional, who shared her valuable insights on Staples Canada’s Future of Work Trend Report in collaboration with Angus Reid Group, necessary measures that will aid employees in prospering, in view of the fact that the majority of respondents emphasize the value of work flexibility and support from employers, strategies employers should adopt to boost productivity, followed by the importance of maintaining a pleasant and secure working environment, and her expert tips for enhancing an inadequate workspace.

As President of Staples Professional, Michelle Micuda is responsible for leading the Canadian business-to-business organization. Michelle’s focus is on growing the organization by providing an outstanding customer experience delivered by a cohesive team of engaged associates across a wide variety of exceptional products and services.

Michelle holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and an Honours Bachelor, Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. She is also an alumna of Rotman’s Judy Project and Queen’s Workplace Mental Health Leadership Program. Michelle is currently on the Board of Directors of Ontario Great Lakes Goodwill Industries.

How has your career been so far as an executive with a variety of backgrounds in both small and large firms, including Sales, Operations, Finance, and HR? What responsibilities do you have as Staples Professional’s president?

I have been fortunate throughout my career to work across a breadth of industries, companies, and functional areas, giving me an appreciation for each area within a business and allowing me to genuinely value their contribution to the overall success of the company. I enjoy being the generalist to help connect our teams to solve difficult problems, deliver customer value and lead our business to new heights.

I have the absolute pleasure of leading the Staples Professional team to deliver exceptional service to medium and large businesses from coast to coast when it comes to solutions for office supplies, facilities, furniture, technology, and print. My role includes responsibilities for growth, operational excellence, and financial performance, as well as people side leading our teams by building culture, connections and belonging. Today, another key responsibility is bringing together our recent acquisitions of Denis and Supreme, where our number one priority is growing together. I couldn’t be more excited about the strong team we have in place today as we emerge, grow and adapt post pandemic.

What do you have to say about Staples Canada’s Future of Work Trend Report in collaboration with Angus Reid Group?

The pandemic has accelerated a shift in Canada’s workforce and until now, few have delved into how Canadians are thinking about where, when, and how they will work. Developed in collaboration with Angus Reid Group, The Future of Work Trend Report allows us to deeply examine what employees and employers across different industries are truly thinking and feeling about the future.

With nearly seven-in-ten respondents stating the importance of flexibility with work, it’s clear we’re at a pivotal moment and that hybrid work is here to stay. With employees counting on that flexibility and support from their employers, we’re here to equip them with the insights and the tools they need to thrive.

It’s clear that the current state of work has moved beyond being a function of the pandemic. Lockdowns ended up generating a variety of modes of work.

Now that we’ve moved beyond the threshold of a temporary setup, companies and employees alike are deciding g what an optimal and productive configuration will look like.

The survey reinforces that there is more to do to make employees productive, happy, and connected regardless of the nature of their workplace arrangements. For those working from home, we confirmed that better equipped employees are happier. By providing basic equipment needs like a chair, monitor, web cam, speakers and ring lights, the at-home experience can be improved upon. Also knowing how to set yourself up ergonomically through basic ergo training or an assessment is a great option. Remote work still challenges all our social connections – relationships, belonging and feeling connected. Employers are looking for solutions for their workplaces to enable these connections including better technology in meeting rooms and improved collaborative furniture/workspace designs within their offices.

What are the necessary measures that will aid employees in prospering, considering that the majority of respondents emphasize the value of work flexibility and support from their employers?

Our key findings from the Report include:

  • Most remote/hybrid employees feel good about what their employer has provided to allow them to work effectively from home.
  • Employees have mixed circumstances while working from home, and while not all have a dedicated office, most rate their working-from-home setup highly. Better equipped employees are happier with their work-from-home setups overall, in particular those who say their setup is ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ are much more likely to have a dedicated desk, adjustable chair or proper lighting.
  • Stipends for equipping home workspaces are not common, with only one-in-five employees having received one. Furthermore, only half of those receiving a stipend say it covers what they need, leaving one-in-ten employees overall having received sufficient funds to equip their home office.
  • Improved equipment is the top thing remote/hybrid workers say would improve their experience working from home. In particular, those rating their employers lower in terms of providing them with what they need are substantially more likely to say they need better equipment for their home workspace.
  • The most common items employees are missing to make their home workspace more usable are more comfortable/ergonomic chairs or desks – over half of employees say they could use one of these. Meanwhile, ergonomic assessments and basic training on ergonomic setups are seldom provided by employers.

As 50% of remote and hybrid workers express concerns about being distracted and losing productivity, what strategies could employers adopt to boost productivity?

These are a few strategies employers could adopt to boost productivity.

  • Being able to choose what hours of the day employees come into the office.
  • Having spaces that meet different needs when they arise, including dedicated office space free of distractions and dedicated collaborative, gathering spaces for connections and teamwork
  • Having more colleagues in the office on the same day(s).
  • Having a quieter overall office environment.
  • Better defined structuring of collaboration time while in the office.
  • Having dedicated in-office equipment so employees don’t need to bring equipment with them.
  • Better technology in meeting/conference rooms for communicating with remote employees.

I also believe, we need to ensure we are adequately valuing the time our teams spend on social interaction, teamwork, happiness at the same time we are evaluating productivity.

Why is it crucial to maintain a pleasant and secure working environment? What are some tips for enhancing an inadequate or unsuitable workspace?

It’s crucial to a have a supportive work environment to allow employees to flourish from both a productivity and happiness standpoint.

The most common items employees are missing to make their home workspace more usable are more comfortable/ergonomic chairs or desks – over half of employees say they could use one of these. Meanwhile, ergonomic assessments are seldom provided by employers.

Below are some tips employees can follow for enhancing an inadequate or unsuitable home office spaces

  • More comfortable/ergonomic chair
  • Better/more ergonomic desk
  • Better Wi-Fi / internet connection
  • External monitor(s)
  • Better laptop
  • Printer
  • Better lighting
  • Better keyboard
  • Better microphone/headset for video conferencing
  • Decorations/art for workspace

What recommendations do you have for employers that will help them keep a positive work environment?

About half of employers have offered incentives to encourage employees to return to the office more often, most notably, offering in-office perks (such as free lunches); something employees say would be most likely to improve their in-office experience.

Incentives offered to employees to encourage return to the office could include the below options.

  • Offering in-office perks
  • Offering flex hours when in the office
  • Improving the office atmosphere
  • Opportunity to connect with senior leaders
  • Improved social spaces in the office
  • Upgrading/purchasing new equipment in the office
  • Stipends for commuting
  • Reducing workload to account for commuting time

Creating workspaces in the office that allow for collaboration and culture building is key.

  • Creating collaborative settings for varied sizes of gatherings (2,4,10 people)
  • Settings for casual discussion
  • Settings for formal planning sessions, brainstorming sessions
  • Breakrooms, coffee stations that perk up the day.

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