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5 ways in which the future of workplaces is changing

Photo; Shutterstock.

As contemporary workplaces are maturing, so too is the structure of traditional office models.

A new report by workplace design company, Knoll, and UnWired,  surveyed leaders in charge of the facilities and real estate of 46 global companies.

The findings revealed that the global trend of allowing to employees to choose their place of work is forcing companies to rethink about how they acquire, plan, and use physical space.

Creating a hybrid and flexible working environments will mean less desks, more meeting spaces and collaborative hubs to stimulate innovation.

As the work office evolves into a second home, companies are also tapping into new hospitality approaches with inviting work cafes and wellbeing programs.

We’ve picked out 5 trends of the modern office.

Move to cloud computing

The size and shape of the modern office will change as cloud computing takes over, stripping companies of outdated in infrastructure and technology.

These new “thin” buildings will mean less infrastructure-power, cooling, servers and fire-suppression systems as offices become simplified and equipment-free.

Companies will have to come up with creative ways to use the free space, including “chill out” spaces, gyms, rehearsal rooms and even cinemas.

In addition, the Internet of Things will also be able to track the networks of workplaces with smart energy management systems already allowing buildings to automatically adjust energy use based on occupancy and headcount sensors to help the provision of food.

Less desk space

While traditional offices were marked by designated desks, organisations are now turning to high-quality and adaptable spaces that are more like a hospitality workplace than office.

“We are moving from individual workstations to team based spaces,” says the Director of Global Workplace Strategies at Microsoft, Brian Collins.

In Microsoft’s Netherlands headquarters, no-one has a fixed desk or office with technology and portable devices keeping employees connected throughout the day. Having shared workspaces not only increases occupancy but promotes efficiency and energy in the company.

Similarly, eBay prefers interactive meeting places and collaborative spaces to “create scenes for casual collision between staff”. By encouraging people from different departments to work together, it forces people to “move around the corporate floorplate, to meet and interact”.

All about the people

There’s been a growing emphasis for progressive companies to invest in thoughtfully designed “hospitality”, including simple things such as quality coffee or great technology.

The workplaces of professional services firm, Ernst & Young, are people-centred and even include spaces for dentistry, massages and classes.

“We are considering how we expand our lifestyle services in house,” says Andrew O’Donnell, Head of Real Estate in UK and Ireland Ernst & Young.

O’Donnell also says that having a holistic office space is “better for attracting and retaining talent” especially when companies are all trying to integrate employees’ lives and wellbeing.

Some offices have even adopted concierge services providing a one-stop shop for employee needs including personal shopping, dry cleaning through to bicycle repair.

Creating a hub

The modern business hub means designing a place that workers will want to visit more often, building engagement and improve community relations in the office.

Ernst & Young made the move two years ago to update structured workplaces with a flexible workplace program across the UK.

“You should be working where you feel you should be working to deliver for our internal and external clients,” says O’Donnell.

“As a product of this change the office is becoming a hub. We still have people who want to have their heads down, but most people are not doing ‘sole laptop’ work but collaborating in and outside of the office.”

The report says that “creating more interesting footfall can engineer chance encounters, designing hubs for people to meet and work together.”

Flexible working

According to the report, research by Deloitte reveals that “flexible working can improve the retention of high performers by as much as 100%, as well as improving employee engagement.”

Lifestyle choices and increasing demands outside of work will mean that companies will be adaptive more agile and responsive business platforms.

“We know that people are choosing to work in a very personal way, choosing when, how, and where they work,” says Collins.

In particular, Monica Klyscz from National Australia Bank says that more than three quarters of its sites in Australia utilise activity-based working principles.

“We need to be efficient in accommodating changing teams and business environment.”

Offices will need to be redefined so that is it more of an inviting “home” to foster information collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees.

Now read: The 10 most impressive offices in the world

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