Designing a workplace to meet the needs of today’s workers isn’t enough, as current workplace trends will be quickly rendered obsolete.
To get the most out of workspaces, organizations need to anticipate future needs and capabilities and build a workspace that can adapt to the changing needs of the workforce. First, consider how the workplace is evolving and how those trends will continue to evolve our relationship with our workspaces in five, 10, even 15 years.
Here are the five most important tenets of a future-ready workplace.
1. Hyperflexible workstations
The workplace caters to a wide variety of needs and working styles, and today’s employees are demanding greater flexibility, a trend that is likely to accelerate as member of Gen Z enter the workplace. Providing flexible workstations that meet the needs and working styles of staff is no longer an employee perk – it’s an expectation.
With a greater emphasis on work-life integration and communication tools that will allow workers to come and go, workplaces need to be prepared to enable them to do so without skipping a beat. The notion that each workspace serves a single employee or function is quickly being rendered obsolete. Organizations should strive to provide an open workspace, where desks and furniture can be easily moved and used for same-day, multiple functions.
2. Always-on connectivity
The business world is becoming more global, and as work continues to decouple from physical workspaces, the distance between the office and the location of clients and staff is only going to increase. The line between working and non-working hours is also becoming blurred, as the standard 9-to-5 workday become a choice rather than a necessity.
Organizations need to be ready to operate across increased hours and time zones to prepare for a future of remote work, globalization and flexibility, with all the tools and resources available 24/7/365. When clients, customers and local employees operate beyond the traditional, 9-5 work hours, they will need a workspace that does the same.
3. Strong, secure communications technology
While technology may be native to the average millennial, it is innate to the average member of Gen Z, so secured communications networks will become even more vital. Designing a workspace today with a strong network foundation that can increase bandwidth and decrease downtime is essential, as is a robust unified communications platform.
These tools need to be heavily secured so that employees working on their own devices can enjoy the same level of security that exists in the workplace, no matter where they are.
As well, with the increase in video conferencing, organizations should strive to create dedicated spaces that provide an optimal setting for video communications.
4. Health and wellness solutions
Since payroll will likely continue to be the average business’s greatest expense, investments in the health and well-being of employees will continue to show strong returns in the form of reduced absenteeism, improved morale and greater employee retention. Features such as kitchens, coffee bars, napping pods, gym access and fitness programs may be considered a perk today, but will likely become standard requirements for the next generation of employees.
5. Social spaces
The most modern workplaces are intentionally designed to facilitate impromptu conversations and knowledge-sharing – which often lead to real business outcomes. As a result, the workplace is increasingly being used as a social gathering space, before and after 5 p.m. Employers who provide lounge spaces often enjoy greater social cohesion and greater commitment to the organization. As remote work becomes more convenient, it’s likely that they will further seek to design workspaces that encourage social interaction, and are more appealing than working from home, or leaving as soon as the workday ends.
The workplace has changed considerably in a relatively short period of time, and thanks to the rapid pace of technological development, the rate of change is only expected to increase. With the average lease lasting more than a decade, office-space designers aren’t going to get the most out of their workspaces in the future.
Employers should strive to create workspaces that are flexible, social, and securely connected around the clock to meet the needs and challenges of the next generation of workers. Not only will creating future-ready workspaces help attract the workers of today, it will also ensure that the organization is prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
Jamie Grossman is the managing principal of Cresa’s Toronto Office and a Director of Cresa Global. Cresa is the largest advisory firm in the world that exclusively represents tenants and occupiers of real estate, with 80 locations globally. https://www.cresa.com/toronto-on
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