Those of us who entered the world of work last century have seen a few changes in our time; flexible hours, working from home and hot desking, to name but a few. Work is no longer viewed as a strictly 9 to 5 activity. Today, many more of us routinely find ourselves involved in work activities outside of these hours, and a desk is just as likely to be a dining room table at home.
Our offices have changed over the years too; most are open plan, and there’s increasingly more emphasis placed on making our working spaces greener and more environmentally friendly. It’s likely too that future generations will be much more demanding and more questioning in terms of what a potential employer will be doing to tackle issues such as climate change.
As the way we work continues to change and evolve, we can expect to see the introduction of new approaches to office design and construction too. Research has shown that sustainably built offices not only help to keep staff motivated in the workplace, but also contribute to helping the environment. In large cities such as London, pollution and waste represent major challenges. Sustainably designed offices can help reduce carbon emissions, and if the workforce is educated on recycling, water use and energy use, the whole building can work towards being much more environmentally friendly.
A new approach to utilising space
Whilst most people predict that offices will still be part of the cultural heart of organisations for many years to come, the way they will be configured looks set to change.
As remote working becomes more mainstream, desk space in offices is increasingly likely to give way to communal facilities that encourage interaction and team building, such as meeting areas, gyms, restaurants, coffee shops and crèches, all of which will be part of a greater focus on staff well-being. Facilities like bike stores, lockers, changing rooms and showers are all likely to feature more prominently.
With less time likely to be spent in them, offices will become less austere and more comfortable – a place where you choose to spend more time without the pressures and formality of previous working environments.
According to a survey that looked at employee and educational performance, only 57% of employees think that their workplace enables them to be productive. This figure only improves to 64% from employees in recently refurbished offices. Key reasons seem to be that workplaces aren’t always conducive to tasks requiring high levels of concentration. So rather than creating more open plan spaces, architects and developers may find that they are asked to construct environments that enable people to find a comfortable and quiet niche, a space that allows them the quality thinking time they need to accomplish their tasks.
Flexibility is key
The demand for less traditional, more flexible offices can only increase, and landlords will need to respond to the challenge. It is clear that the workspace is changing, with providers and employers being asked to create less uniform, more innovative and bespoke solutions to the provision of space.