A THIRD of employees around the world do not like their workplaces. However, the good news is that the workplace of the future will be a lot different.
This is according to Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist company Giant Leap. She said that many of today’s office environments failed by not supporting peoples’ jobs, their physical and mental well-being or their lifestyles.
So what lies ahead for work?
To meet the growing demand for flexible working environments, landlords will need to become more agile and proactive in their approach. Commercial office leases are getting shorter and because co-working providers offer workers exactly what they need, commercial landlords will provide better amenities and services within the workplace. By borrowing heavily from the hospitality industry, co-working is delivering a high-quality of architecture, aesthetics and experience while giving people the opportunity to pay for a membership or lease space for short periods of time.
It has been incredibly responsive to both the needs and growth of its many freelance, start-up and big business customers attracted by the ease of a plug-and-play offering. According to research by global workplace experience research company Leesman, 92% of employees believe that the co-working trend will continue to grow and about 80% believe it is a positive deployment in the office market.
New technologies, mostly in the form of connected devices and increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence, are shifting our perception of buildings from bricks and mortar to dynamic living organisms. “Just as the smart-home market is booming and giving people an unprecedented level of choice, control and convenience, we expect the workplace to go the same way,” she said. Smart rooms will, for example, know what you need for certain meetings and remember the temperature you set the room at last time. “The room, the building and your devices will be like digital team members, Trim added. Leesman research showed that 95% of employees said that there was great value in smarter buildings.
With people taking up 85 percent of operating expenditure budgets on average, organisations have woken up to the value of human health in the workplace. Trim said: “Research suggests that the current absenteeism rates can be reduced by up to 35 percent, which has an undeniable impact on the bottom line. Working in buildings that focus on sustainability and well-being are proving to lower employee turnover and positively impact employee satisfaction in general.”
Importantly, company leaders are increasingly focusing on mental, not just physical, well-being. “People spend a third of their lives at work, so there is strong reason to believe that the spaces, services and cultures in the office will affect their health,” she said.
“The growing emphasis on human performance requires a new approach to how we measure the effectiveness of the workplace. Developments such as unassigned seating, flexible working, densification and relocations from central business districts to periphery territories or vice versa have a huge impact on people’s ability to work. “But too often these actions are driven by cost reduction rather than productivity or effectiveness. Organisations must therefore align employee experience with office efficiency,” Trim advised.
As we move further into the gig economy, this will also change how people view their roles at work, replacing an old-fashioned view of personal productivity and attachment to a sense of personal contribution to project work or short periods of employment. Given the increasing level of choice in working environments, it is much easier to make the argument that people who choose to go the office want to have an authentic connection with the purpose and values of their organisation.
Linda Trim is a director at workplace design specialist company Giant Leap.