Why human interactions will be key to future success

Australia /

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that behind every great digital disruption­−from Facebook to Uber, Amazon to Air BnB−is a bright human mind with an inspiring idea.

We recently surveyed more than 260 people as part of our partnership with TEDxSydney. In our latest report, The Human Revolution, we explore the findings of this survey and what the future holds for our cities and workplaces in this ever changing world, full of disruptors that are set to change the way we live and work over the next 10 years.

Our respondents told us that the value of human interactions simply can’t be underestimated – when it comes to who they are inspired by, it’s human’s, not robots that drive people to think differently.

Don’t worry, be happy

Creating a happy, engaged workforce is much easier said than done but if you want to attract the best, you need to nurture an inviting, comfortable and fun environment.

Rajiv Nagrath, Executive Director and Chair, Corporate Solutions Australia, says that human-to-human interaction will be vital in the workplace of 2030. “Community and a sense of belonging is becoming more and more important, because the more we live in a virtual world, the more we crave those ‘real’ interactions.”

As our cities grow exponentially, the ways in which we work, and even where we work, are changing rapidly. Companies will increasingly need to adapt to attract the best candidates. “You can only relate to around 150 people maximum, so a sense of team spirit and broader community is important,” Nagrath notes.

So how can companies foster rewarding communities that facilitate vital human interaction? Here are five simple steps to start you on your journey:

1. Create shared spaces

Create shared spaces that encourage human interactions and create a sense of fun and belonging.

A huge 90 percent of survey respondents agree that access to community spaces (lounges, cafes, terraces) facilitate a collaborative culture. 64 percent strongly agreed that the workplace setting itself will have a major influence on the culture of the organization, and 43 percent strongly agreed that working alongside humans inspired them to think differently.

Corporates could consider creating flexible spaces that promote different ways of working, as well as encouraging relaxation time and leisure activities.

Exposure to natural light and greenery is important, as are communal areas like Wi-Fi-connected cafes where colleagues can meet with each other and interact with the broader community.

“Creating the right spaces that anchor us to a company is critical,” Nagrath says. “If people feel that they are connected, that they belong and are valued, then they can thrive.”

2. A curated program

It’s not just a case of “if you build it they will come,” you need to curate a program that brings your spaces and your people together. Whether it’s hosting a local community event or organizing a lunchtime jogging group, it’s important to encourage people to engage with each other outside their work routines.

Appointing a person to champion the employee experience, like a Chief Happiness Officer, is another option. This role would be responsible for curating programs that actively engage human-to-human interaction and drive wellbeing in the workplace.

Our survey found that 75 percent of respondents felt that it is important their workplace intermingles with the community. Corporates and owners can work together to activate plazas, lobbies, atriums and grounds to create an epicenter for community events, art exhibitions, markets and performances.

3. Smart offices

Creating smarter offices that make better use of technology not only has the potential to streamline business and reduce costs, but also seamlessly connect people with their environments. Technology also allows corporations to monitor how their building is used, identifying spaces that do and don’t work and even keeping a caring eye on how engaged employees are.

“Corporations can use technology to better assist people in engaging with each other and their environment,” Nagrath says. “Take the app, Never Eat Alone, for example. This allows employees to find people from within their organization and arrange to meet up with them for lunch. It’s a fantastic idea that breaks down siloes and connects with people from different parts of the company. It’s a simple thing, creating digital communities that can encourage real world connections.”

As many as 75 percent of respondents believe that corporate Australia is slow to adapt to new technology and this will have an impact on business growth.

4. Choice and flexibility

Be sure to offer your employees choice and control over their work space. Consider allowing more scope to work from home or satellite offices and explore co-working opportunities. It’s anticipated that co-working space will overtake the traditional serviced office as early as 2020 as corporates increasingly embrace the model.

“The entire organization needs to be designed around a sense of collaboration,” says Nagrath. “We’re living in such a dynamically changing world that this concept of creating boxes for people doesn’t work. People need to be able to come together to create and their office configuration needs to enable this.”

“If you put a co-working hub next to the cafe, employees automatically interact with people beyond the company,” Nagrath says. “You are creating that sense of community within the building.”

5. Human leadership

Leaders need to create a sense of ownership and a unified common purpose amongst their teams. People need to know why they’re here and wholeheartedly support what they’re working towards.

Nagrath points to the sense of ownership identified by employees at the likes of Google and Facebook, suggesting that more corporates could embrace the tech start-up culture.

Our JLL TEDxSydney survey respondents highlighted a desire for people-centric management and boosted learning experience, particularly for employees under 35 who want to interact more with more senior colleagues. Workplaces that foster inter-generational mentorships will boost productivity.

“There’s this old saying, ‘give people a cause and they’ll die for it.’” Nagrath adds. “If your employees buy into that sense of purpose, then others naturally gravitate towards it.”

Interested to know more? Read the full report here