What is Workplace?

Sara Mailloux Escobar
3 min readJul 1, 2021


Workplace in its simplest form is the environment that supports effective work. This can range from a corporate office to a factory to being on your couch at home.

For decades, corporate workplace was known as facilities and the facilities field was centered around building operations. Facilities still exists, but as workplace emerged over the last decade it differentiated the field by thinking about place as a contributor to supporting people.

A big part of employee productivity is where you work and office space has a long history of change. Workplace professionals are the umbrella that, as an element, oversees the corporate building, but prioritizes the more strategic work of helping humans adapt to and thrive within change in their place and space.

To simplify it:

  • For Workplace professionals, the system is the people.
  • For Facilities professionals, the system is the building.
  • Workplace is proactively defining ways to assist the employee population in being more productive and engaged through place and space.
  • Facilities teams are often reactive, solving concerns of the building (with proactive preventative measures to prevent building issues)
  • Workplace team’s biggest ROI is impact on employee engagement.
  • Facilities biggest ROI is reduced expenses.

This means that high functioning facilities are an imperative part of a workplace team but there are significant other elements that truly support an effective workplace.

So, how do you create a high functioning workplace?

Workplace as a tool for serving people means it is ultimately a tool to attract and retain talent and as many know, human nature is not easy to navigate.

To truly make a workplace human centered, the workplace team should be thinking through some core elements rooted in human dynamics and change management:

  • Ensure the basics — Humans default into survival mode when basic elements aren’t present. Food, water, shelter and safety will always be priority. Because these elements are often personal, workplace needs a close partnership with other internal teams (HR, Security, etc.) to ensure these elements can be supported.
  • Create belonging — Involve teams throughout the business in workplace decisions so the workplace choices, programs, etc. are ostensibly “owned” by everyone rather than a few decision makers.
  • Reduce friction — There are lots of elements of workplace that should be easy and just work. Don’t overcomplicate these elements! Rooms should be a comfortable temperature, food and water should be easily accessible, AV systems should be easy to connect to. These will rise to the top of the priority list if they are broken; a good workplace team wants to spend time empowering rather than reacting.
  • Dig deep to influence — Build trust as a knowledge source but not a know-it-all. Be curious. Deeply understand the work processes before adjusting the work environment.
  • Have good inputs — Look at the data from multiple sources rather than the leader or loudest person in the room (ie surveys, focus groups, feedback, usage stats, etc).
  • Manage change purposely — Have a plan. Commit to results. Act as a partner. Communicate consistently. The longer those outside of workplace are kept wondering what’s happening the less they will feel they are a part of it.
  • Represent ROI — The workplace is an extension of the brand and should act as such. There is direct ROI in workplace investments that should be highlighted whenever possible especially for senior leadership as the business success is their top motivator.
  • Measure Success and pivot effectively — Relate human performance ROI’s to workplace changes and let those affected by workplace know the results and be part of future change.



Sara Mailloux Escobar

Sara Escobar is a Workplace Leader with over 12 years of experience working with brands such as Hulu, Honey and Netflix. She believes work should be "human."