Creating the workplace of the future is not simply about constructing a new office. You need to create programs that prepare and manage not only the space, but also the work experience itself to deliver ongoing efficiency, dynamism and wellness.
According to JLL’s paper, The future of work and workplace, companies need to “curate” the workplace while they set the social agenda to create networking opportunities and embrace collaboration.
Tomorrow’s workplace is a vision of innovative networked spaces and technologies—a space where your people can come together to interact and collaborate not just with colleagues, but also with entrepreneurs and employees from other organizations.
How can you ensure that your organization is equipped for a successful transition toward the workplace of the future?
Establishing the right behaviors
It’s important to understand that the physical environment is just one aspect in embracing this transition to a workplace of the future. JLL’s Head of Corporate Account Management, Rajiv Nagrath, says companies should establish the behaviors in the workplace, and then support these behaviors with the right workspace and technologies.
“When looking at workforce change, you can’t have the workplace without the processes to implement it,” he says.
Dinesh Acharya, JLL’s Head of Workplace Strategy, echoes this sentiment and suggests that new behaviors should already be embedded in the culture of the workforce before the transition to a new environment.
“We talk about preparing the place for our people and preparing them for the change,” Acharya says. “You can’t assume that they will understand how to use new technology and space types and embrace behaviors if they haven’t been practicing already. In the new environment, those behaviors should already be embedded.”
A workspace equipped for constant feedback
It’s no longer a case of “set and forget” when it comes to establishing a new workplace. Innovation zones need to be fostered, trialed and modified to be fully harnessed. It has to couple with ongoing space management to ensure both the space and the workforce are performing well.
New buildings and spaces will make it easier to do this—the future promises a workspace equipped for constant monitoring and real-time feedback.
“In the future, sensors will be all over the work environment,” Acharya says. “If you combine sensor technology, user experience and the design of the space, fostering the right work culture then becomes pretty straightforward.”
We recommend that data should be used to modify, reorganize and fine-tune the space. Doing so ensures that the workspace aligns to the behavioral profile of your people and supports the way they work.
Wellness at the top of mind
The concept of “wellness” is growing in importance, with academics linking contented workplaces with higher productivity. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that happiness can increase workforce productivity by more than 10 percent. While several factors (such as positive relationships, stimulating work, and recognition) contribute to workplace happiness, a pleasant and highly functioning office environment is an important one.
Just as the physical space should be constantly monitored and adjusted, so, too, should the user experience. Wellness is a large part of enhancing the workplace experience. Many organizations (such as Fitbit, Google, and Draper, Inc) have launched wellness programs in a drive to boost employee happiness and productivity, and reduce absenteeism and long-term healthcare costs. Programs run the gamut—they include conducting nutrition workshops, providing bike and shower facilities for employees, hosting yoga or tai chi sessions for relaxation, offering flu vaccinations, or even allowing employees days off to volunteer for their charity of choice.
Such programs should also compliment the physical space to improve efficiency and effectiveness at work. The recently launched international assesses a building’s contribution to employee wellness. Organized into seven categories of wellness—namely air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort and mind—the standard has 102 performance metrics, design strategies and procedures both owners and tenants of buildings can implement to achieve wellness outcomes.
As Nagrath points out, “wellness” in the workspace refers to well-equipped workplaces, well-connected teams and physically well employees.
“Wellness is absolutely one of the next big challenges,” he says. People now are amazingly armed with information, and they are aware of the health risks from sedentary work. Going forward, your people will demand a sense of wellness, and that needs to be at the top of mind for your organization. Everyone will eventually need to demonstrate a social agenda to the wider community, but, first, it needs to start with your workforce.
The challenge up ahead
Both experts agree that only companies willing to bring an agile attitude toward the workplace experience—one that aligns the physical with the cultural in a responsively managed environment—will prosper in the future.
As technology continues to evolve over time, there are and will be many dramatic changes that will impact our work. You need to stay nimble to thrive, be ahead of the curve, and always look out for disruptions down the track. Embrace an all-encompassing vision for the workplace, and strive toward curating a space that creates a dynamic workplace.
Tomorrow’s workplace is more than just space—it’s about the work experience for your employees.
Interested to find out more about Future of Work? Learn more about our outlook on the changing world of work here.