IN THE quest to attract and retain the best talent, improving the workplace experience dramatically to make it a “super experience” is now on the radar of every organisation.

Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist company Giant Leap, said that as new technologies and design practices raised the bar in what could be achieved, South Africa, as in the rest of the world, was now entering the era of the “super experience” at work. A “super experience” is a heightened experience that creates excitement, is original and impactful, and goes beyond the typical and more mundane “user experience” that people experience at traditional workplaces.

She said: “Super experiences make you feel excited or that you’ve achieved something. They can stimulate curiosity, create a sense of purpose or instil a sense of belonging to a company. They can be unusual and unexpected or reassuring and morale-boosting. They can be small and intimate or executed on a grand scale.”
There are many examples of the “super experience” at some of the world’s best known companies. They include office buildings such as Amazon’s biophilic glass orbs at its Seattle headquarters, which brings people closer to nature creating a sense that they are working in a rainforest.

The Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco created 16 “neighbourhoods” in the office, each comprising desk spaces, large communal tables, standing desks, phone rooms and personal storage lockers. In South Africa, Giant Leap created state of the art training rooms for new employees at Flight Centre so people got to experience a “super experience” from the first day at the company. Bloomberg’s new base in London is in two buildings joined by bridges between the Bank of England and St Paul’s Cathedral in London’s Square Mile. It features a giant 210m ramp at its heart that aims to encourage collaboration between workers, offers and a pantry with free snacks and views over London. Nasa’s scientists have formed a “Space Orchestra”, which plays around the world.

“Employee experience wasn’t really on the workplace map a few years ago, but many businesses are now scrambling to create experiences inside and beyond office buildings that support innovation, well-being, productivity and learning. “And as part of a newly thriving ‘experience economy’, new job titles are emerging in organisations such as CEXO (chief experience officer).” Trim noted She added that to create a “super experience”, companies should take a people-first approach, offering a flexible portfolio of experiences and keeping an open mind on bringing in new technologies.

“The era of the super experience will depend on new lighting, AV, soundscaping and sensor technologies in the workplace along with digital apps. The property sector will also require new skills, knowledge and ideas from theatre, arts, hospitality, retail and behavioural science if it is to make super experience more of an occurrence in the workplace,” Trim concluded.

Linda Trim is a director at workplace design specialist company Giant Leap.

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