KSS Savills Associate Director & Senior Workplace Strategist, Daniel Gardner, shares his expertise on how the workplace is evolving and tips on what businesses need to consider as they adapt their workplace strategy.
Has there been a shift in understanding of what constitutes a good or effective workplace?
Yes, I believe there has. It’s encouraging that the majority of our clients now understand the value of the quality of space and the variety of work settings that go towards making a good or effective workplace.
The age-old strategy of one desk per person, plus meeting rooms and a tea point has finally been surpassed. Now that workplaces are more frequently considered as transitional spaces, due to the onset of regular remote working, I think comparisons can be more easily made between what someone may consider the essence of a good or effective workplace in the same way that we make comparisons between restaurants, cafés, pubs, hotels, holiday apartments, libraries, cars or any shared public or private space.
The additional time spent in our own homes over 2020/21 has focused our minds on what a workplace really requires.
How closely is this change tied to the wider shift in workplace priorities i.e. the need to go green & employee wellbeing?
The wider shift in workplace priorities are a result of a change in social attitudes, personal experience and resulting governmental targets. One of the biggest learnings from increased home working was the ability to directly control and influence your own working environment and notice the health and productivity benefits of that.
Whether it was the ability to open a window, work outside, exercise during the day, cook healthy food, sit within natural light and not turn on the lights, listen to music, surround yourself with plants and art or work in different rooms and on different furniture.
The benefits have been noticed and now the modern workplace has to match or improve upon the home working environment and offer these benefits to those who aren’t able to experience them at home.
Combining these personal aspects with a global awareness for climate change, carbon reduction, sustainability and waste, a good or effective workplace should not only be a benefit for those who work within it but also for those who work near it, live near it, learn near it, play near it and travel past it.
It should increase the enjoyment, improve the environment and enhance the community of its surrounding area.
As workplaces become more complex they require closer management. Do you have any tips for success for those responsible?
A good or effective workplace also means that it delivers a sound investment for the tenant, no square meter of a floor plate should go underused or considered a waste of space / money.
Having the ability to monitor, measure, learn & change a workplace is fundamental to its effectiveness
A workplace without a smart building management system, environmental or utilisation sensors, and regular user feedback is like operating a car without a dashboard or mirrors. Landlords, building managers and tenants need to be able to react to real time data and periodic performance feedback.
What do you think are the key areas to focus on when developing a modern workplace?
Communication, engagement, technology and constant management of all three.
Throughout the briefing and design phases clear communication of goals and parameters is key. Engaging with as wide and diverse an employee group as possible may cost more time and money but can result in measurable increases in satisfaction and productivity.
Outdated technology and the poor management only result in daily and long term stresses on employees and budgets. A modern workplace relies upon its leadership, employees and technology to be honest, open and reliable.
What are your predictions for the future of workplace development and our working lives?
The movement away from physical interaction (hands, mouse, keyboards) with digital processing software programmes towards more AI or voice activated based platforms.
In a similar way to how someone may now control their home (environment, entertainment, communication or shopping) via their voice rather than their hands.
Whether you are filing an insurance claim or designing a skyscraper, most office based work consists of understanding information and data from one source (man or machine), storing it, analysing it and turning it into another recorded format for someone or something else to understand.
Our physical interaction with digital software may one day be as distant as pre industrial revolution physical labour.
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