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Purposeful Workplace Design Will Be Essential
ThinkLab has been working to study the metrics of how the current pandemic has impacted the design world.
One of the standout changes that can be expected from the design industry will be the adoption of flexible reconfigurations to meet remote working policies. Moving forward, companies will likely pivot towards a hybrid model of both at-home and in-office work, and with this will become more purposeful workplace design.
“A community manager in the workplace should function as the connective tissue for the employees to interact with each other: remote or on-site,” said Ann Hoffman, Director of Workplace Strategies at Francis Cauffman Architects. “While acting as the ambassador for the company brand and the culture, the community manager can monitor trends and requests and implement services on the fly to enrich the connections.”
Prior to the pandemic, experts had written off the need for cubicles and fully embraced the open office model. Now, as distancing has become a necessity now and in the future, personalized seating may reemerge.
According to Steve Delfino, Corporate Marketing and Product Management at Teknion, the future of office design will be one that values creating boundaries between collaborative workspaces and private, focused environments. This will also be useful in keeping employees safe and healthy.
The growing popularity of lavish amenities may also dwindle down. At the start of the year, workplaces began investing into wellness programs that offered yoga classes and on-site healthy snack bars. Now, the focus for health amenities will be in sanitation protocols.
Trends Impacting The Atmosphere Of Workplaces
A report from Cushman & Wakefield has explored the obstacles, challenges, and potential future of how the pandemic will shape the workplace.
According to Bill Knightly, Chief Executive of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield, three key components will likely transform the future of the workplace — the fact that workers can be productive outside of the office, choosing when and where they can work is accelerating and a total workplace ecosystem will be the norm
Prior to the pandemic, remote workers had been found to perform at a higher level of productivity.
“Employees are reporting they have the ability to focus when required,” said Knightly. “This is not to say that the current situation has been without challenges, but for the most part, people have been able to adapt and overcome.”
The report revealed that 90% of employees felt that they were trusted to work remotely, and 73% said that they believe their company should adopt some sort of flexible work arrangements.
However, Knightly adds that this is not the end of the office. Instead, the physical workplace will be one that has a more specific purpose and emphasizes functionality and well-being.
“While it is important to acknowledge the success, it is also equally important to learn from the challenges. Although a rather cliched expression, this current state of work is truly the world’s largest work from home experiment,” said Knightly.
Workplace Diversity Is Necessary For Fueling Innovation
The Harvard Business Review has found that diverse companies are more innovative, which adds 19% more revenue. This is no surprise — diversity in the workplace is essential to bringing together a wide array of cultures, races, generations that offer varying experiences and insights.
While hiring diverse talent is necessary to create a truly innovative workplace, making those workers feel included is also vital. So how can companies adopt genuine diverse practices that keep workers inspired and engaged?
First, companies should reevaluate their recruiting process. Typical interviews have unconscious bias, and using these practices causes business leaders to turn away top talent.
According to Tatyana Tyagun, HR generalist at Chanty, using tools such as Toggl Hire and Vervoe tests a candidates’ skills without seeing their age, name or nationality, which helps prevent bias in the hiring process.
Business leaders should also look to their diverse employees when making decisions. Although it is the C-suite’s responsibility to make major decisions, it is important to hear their perspective on how to improve the company’s operations and culture and for workers to be included in certain processes.
Once a company has actively recruited diverse talent, it is also important to give them growth opportunities within the organization.
“If the entirety of your C-suite and mid-level management consists of white men, you’re sending a message to diverse employees that there’s no real future for them at your company,” said Jennifer Walden, director of operations at WikiLawn Lawn Care.
Hybrid Work Will Define The Future Of Work
A report from business-geared electronics company Poly, ‘Hybrid Working: Creating the “next normal” in work practices, spaces and culture,’ reveals a shift in how the workplace is perceived and how its purpose, rather than place, is the focus.
According to the report, home offices and virtual meetups will be some of the defining factors of the future of work as companies embrace remote and hybrid working arrangements.
The research found hybrid work arrangements will focus on a few key components, including flexibility in where and when employees work, focusing on results rather than total hours worked, and how companies can invest in tools that enable remote collaboration.
“Today, few can claim that the technology is a barrier to changing practices, but the lockdown has highlighted the need for investment into the cultural and behavioral components of flexible work,” said Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist and contributor to the Poly report. “The future is a flexible working environment that caters to the needs of all employees, giving them the most fulfilling work experience and in return allowing them to maximise the value they return to the organisation.”
Sarah Susanka, an architect and another contributor to the report, added how to create a fully-equipped remote office environment to maintain productivity. This includes including home office ergonomic furniture, as well as investing in coworking spaces outside of major cities.
Trends That Will Impact Productivity In The Future
The future of work is officially here, and with it comes a pivot in how, where and when employees do their work. According to a Gallup poll from April, 62% of American workers were working from home due to the pandemic, and this is likely to shape how a company operates indefinitely.
One of the first major changes is the adoption of remote working. A survey by Robert Half found that 60% of workers who recently moved to a remote workforce have achieved a better work-life balance, while 74% hoped they would continue working from home in the future.
Remote working is obviously beneficial to employees, but business leaders also have the opportunity to expand their talent pool and diversify their workforce.
Additionally, employees’ success will no longer be measured by the hours they work. Instead, productivity will be measured through data and metrics to determine just how effective workers are being. Tracking email accounts, customer service interactions and more can help employers optimize their employee’s productivity.
With this, meeting certain benchmarks and goals will apply to all workers. Since in-person interaction is limited nowadays, workers will have to show their employers how they continue to engage and complete tasks to meet the company’s bottom line.
Companies should also be mindful about not micromanaging and intruding on employees computers. If using tracking tools, be transparent with workers and let them know exactly how they are being monitored in order to instill trust in them.
The Executive Centre Grows Its Presence In China
Hong Kong-based flexible office operator The Executive Centre has expanded its China footprint with two new locations in Hangzhou and Shanghai, as well as growing in Shenzhen.
The two new locations are expected to open in July in Shanghai’s Shui On Plaza and The One Place in Hangzhou. This new expansion will equate to 43,938 square feet.
“We move into cities and markets based on client demand,” said Paul Salnikow, TEC founder and CEO. “We continue to see strong demand coming from MNCs and domestic corporates in China, which are looking for premium Grade-A office space, but want more flexibility at the current time as they try to manage costs.”
Salnikow added that since the start of the year, the company’s occupancy rates have stayed at around 80%.
Currently, the company has over 135 locations across 32 cities in Asia Pacific and the Middle East.