The modern workplace continues to evolve. The term ‘hotdesking’, once unheard of, is now commonplace as forward thinking employers champion the benefits where possible. Now more than ever, employers need to understand what makes an office work well in order to maximise staff productivity.
Whatever the business and the demands on employees, the workplace will be a major part of most peoples’ lives and we’ll spend too much time in it to be uncomfortable!
However basic, a physical office is often an essential item for many businesses. People need somewhere to work. Any proactive business should be invested in its staff and their productivity. It should be asking if the workplace is beneficial to them. Does it enable them to do their best work? Are they happy and productive?
Whether a business considers office space an essential commodity, or something to invest in that will pay your dividends in terms of productivity and retention, the workplace continues to change dynamically. It’s the level of investment, design and sophistication that makes the difference.
The rise of the co-working office
In the 2000’s, millennials entered the a technology and connectivity fuelled. Entrepreneurial in their approach, the millennials created an office culture of hustle and innovation, where teams collaborated to deliver rapid growth. This style of working demanded a dynamic, fluid workspace and saw the introduction of the co-working office; a professional alternative to working from home or a coffee shop.
By the 2010s, millennials continued to shape the workplace, only now at the multi-nationals, where they shun traditional rewards packages for more flexible working: valuing time more than money. Co-working office spaces continued to thrive, with major players creating an industry of providing collaborative working and networking.
Sustainability, wellness and community
Beyond the design and fabric of a workplace although not entirely unrelated to it, these three qualities are among the most highly valued aspects of offices in the 2010s.
Laws regarding class, race and gender equality are now firmly embedded in most environments and embraced by today’s workforce, underpinning an office culture that is all about collaboration, community and equality. Tech start-ups in particular, often feature a culture where people are friends first, colleagues second and all are keen to work for the common good. Uber-successful multi-nationals working at the forefront of innovation and tech, continue to pioneer office design and it’s not all about looks. They’re building futuristic spaces around the needs and wants of their people.
Better by design
Understandably, business owners may be more concerned with the financials of office space: cost and efficiency may take precedent over aesthetic. However, there’s a strong business case for investing in good design. It’s well documented that design-led solutions add value by making the most of the workspace: creating comfortable, attractive environments that engage staff, making them more productive and strengthening retention. Investment in workplace design can mean more people actually look forward to going to work.
Working from home
Freelancing and flexible working have also changed the workplace. According to The Guardian, the UK workforce are increasingly home workers. Flexibility, efficiency and no commute are obvious attractions, but the downside can include isolation, both with colleagues and the wider world.
Businesses that allow staff to work from home, should consider how they make better use of office space that may be more sparsely populated.
Working in the future
There are endless opportunities to evolving office space around the changing needs of people and businesses. Technology, combined with culture, will continue to redefine how and where we work.
The next generation workforce wants a more meaningful life journey: making their money in a shorter space of time, creating the freedom to explore their life passions, giving them the choice to work in something that gives back in a more altruistic, philanthropic way.
The future workplace is already being shaped by telecommunications that enable fully-functional, effective virtual meeting places. The Internet of Things will enable digitally connected technology to control any environment and Virtual Reality technology will put everyone in the same room together.
The core message is that lasting improvement and real business growth can only come from the inside out and innovation in the office or workspace is a great place to start.