The office of today is vastly different from the office of 30 years ago. In fact, workplace design has significantly changed in as little like the last five years. Over the years, the workplace has become more than just a place for people to clock in and out of, mindlessly completing tasks and watching the seconds of the day tick by, wishing it was 5PM already.
As technology and management ideologies have evolved, so has the space we work in. The modern workplace is now one where workers have more freedom to decide how, where and when they work. It is imbued with a focus on health and wellbeing, and it is increasingly being treated as an extension of an employee’s life, rather than an isolated compartment.
In this post, we will identify the hallmarks of the modern workplace, their benefits and what it might look like if your workplace design isn’t meeting the evolving needs of your employees. But first, let’s start with what modern employees are looking for in their workplace.
What do employees expect in workplaces?
Workplace expectations have changed, and with a war on talent, employees are holding the cards. In a recent survey, a few key findings of workplace design were unearthed:
- 53% of workers value the ability to work in different locations—a sign that workplace flexibility is increasingly important to employees.
- 25% of those surveyed said that they value workplace flexibility yet don’t have access to it, signalling an opportunity to attract talent by making this sort of offer.
- 47% of the workers surveyed said they find value in a community atmosphere in their workplace, flagging the contemporary need for a workplace to be more than simply a place to do work.
What does the 2020 workplace look like?
Technology: From instant messaging to cloud-based project management tools to the latest hardware, tech is boosting productivity in offices worldwide. Workplaces are including wireless charging stations, monitors that easily connect with laptops and boardrooms with user-friendly wireless presenting.
Health: Say goodbye to harsh fluorescent lighting, windowless spaces and white on beige colour schemes. Offices today are expected to be kind on the eyes, both physically and aesthetically. Think natural light, indoor greenery and carefully selected interior elements, all designed with employee wellbeing and productivity in mind.
Recreation and relaxation: Today’s workplace understands that it’s not all about desks, cubicles, and offices. Areas to break out, get creative and have some time to unwind are all becoming more popular. Meditation rooms, on-site gyms, rooftop terraces and multipurpose rooms are all becoming the new norm.
Privacy: While the open-plan office is nothing new, the workplace of 2020 recognizes that the hubbub of the masses can be distracting and decrease productivity. Private booths, quiet zones and secluded meeting rooms are designed for distraction-free working time or private discussions, giving employees more flexibility to choose what’s best for the task at hand.
The benefits of a well-designed workplace
Now we know what the modern workplace looks and feels like, let’s delve a little deeper into the benefits your company might see with a well-designed workspace.
Savvy companies know that treating an office as a cost centre is an old-fashioned and costly (excuse the pun!) mistake. Smart businesses understand that investing in a well-designed workplace is a way to increase revenue by supporting improvements in employee engagement, efficiency and productivity. Bonus: this focus does not go unnoticed by potential talent!
Businesses are expected to have more than a mission statement hung on the wall; rather, they are obliged to create workplaces that live up to their vision. Spot the problem: your company culture is apparently focussed on employee health, yet your office is dark and dingy, and there is no access to an employee wellbeing program. Or how about saying your business is one that values flexibility, yet your office features rows of cubicles that employees can’t leave till 5PM or later.
The modern workplace is one that considers how design impacts on the health and wellbeing of employees. And not just the physical space, but also the overall practices and culture of the company. By supporting healthy decision making, businesses are reducing both absenteeism and presentism, as well as boosting productivity. Your employees will look forward to coming to work instead of counting down the minutes to clock-off time.
How do I know if my office isn’t meeting the needs of my employees?
As you may have already noticed, there are several symptoms that your current office space is no longer meeting the needs of your employees.
Here is a quick checklist of some of the most common signs, to help you quickly spot if you have an issue in your current space:
- Your space doesn’t align with your company culture
- Teams are split across multiple buildings, floors or areas, or you’ve simply run out of room
- New talent is being put off by your current space
- Your current space doesn’t support new ways of working (ABW, remote working, etc.)
If you’ve ticked the box for any or all of the above, now may be the perfect time to think about revisiting your workplace strategy and design.