1. Be Agile and Adaptable
Research shows us that offices should be designed around our activities and working preferences. This means one office layout does not fit all. New ways of organising the office, including Activity Based Working (also often referred to as agile working) and hot-desk layouts, give people control over how, when, and where they work.
Crucially, physical changes to workspaces need to be based on accurate data. This means monitoring occupancy levels and tracking how people actually use your workspace. With a combination of accurate data, considered planning, and workplace consultancy – as well as the introduction of carefully planned flexible working policies – businesses will see an improvement in engagement, productivity, and much more.
2. Shift From Work ‘Place’ to ‘Experience’
For traditional organisations, the workplace is seen as bricks, desks, and decor. But, according to today’s thinking, the term ‘workplace’ must go beyond the physical space— it has to become an ‘experience’.
The 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report highlights a shift from ‘employee experience’ to ‘human experience’. In its report, Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age, Deloitte says that culture and engagement are fundamental to this, and that workplace design, wellbeing, and workplace productivity systems are all becoming part of the mandate for HR. The report shows that four out of five leaders (79%) cite the experience of their staff as important or very important for the coming years.
In the report, executives identified building an ‘organisation of the future’ as their most important challenge for 2020, as companies replace structural hierarchies with networks of empowered teams.
Ben Whitter, founder of the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI) says: “Employee experience continues to be the number one trend in any HR, human capital, or workforce conversation. Forward-thinking brands are thoughtfully considering and intentionally designing experiences to enable people to connect more deeply with the workplace to deliver stronger, more sustainable outcomes. Evidence coming through from studies on employee experience is that it does make a massive difference to productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability.”
US interiors giant, Knoll, defines this step-change as going from the ‘office as a building’ to ‘workplace as an experience’ in its Immersive Planning report. The model is based on fluidity and choice. This contrasts with the outdated view of people commuting to the site where a physical presence is expected, and the company dictates the work hours and location. The ultimate outcome, it says, is that “people define the space” instead of architecture “prescribing” the place.
Jeff Wellstead agrees: “This is not just about physical workspace, it’s about experience. We all remember walking into a space and having an immediate, emotive, and psychological impression – that’s really powerful. For me, that’s about a frictionless, interactive environment, which has all the things you need to nurture you within a short walk; where the space is designed for functionality and comfort rather than aesthetics.”
3. Care For Your People and the Planet
Buildings have always had to comply with environmental standards assessment like BREEAM and LEED. But today, buildings need to be kind to people as well as the planet. Rating schemes like the US-based WELL and Fitwell can help you track your progress. WELL rates buildings by measuring seven factors in relation to the people within them: light, noise, comfort, nourishment, water, air, and mind. Rick Cook, from New York’s Cookfox Architects, sums up the change: “In the same way with the green buildings rating, once we knew how to make buildings better for the planet, we had to do it — it was a moral imperative. Now we know how to make buildings better for people, we have to do it.”
4. Embed your brand values
Ben, from WEEI, says: “Something that is quite important, and organisations are starting to realise this, is the need to embed their brand and values into their workspace. So that’s asking the question: ‘what is fundamentally important for our employees to experience on a day-to-day basis?’ It goes beyond values-on-the-wall stuff. This is how we create office spaces and physical infrastructures that enable our employees to feel a deep sense of belonging to our brand.”