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Work any time, any place. What trends drive more equity in workplace design?
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2022
Work any time, any place. What trends drive more equity in workplace design?

Aug. 18, 2022 - Step by step organizations are embracing hybrid work, as WFH is still trending, but there is also a big need to return to the office. This new dimension of work brings along many challenges for employers. Suddenly there's a huge need for frameworks, policies, cultural transformations and yes, also office (re)designs and IT investments.

To make an organization attractive for the new digital natives, the hybrid workers and diverse workforce of today, organizations will have to be flexible, open-minded and innovative, in every sense of the way. They will have to give employees equal opportunity to work and have access to work. Let's dive into some trends in current workplace design that may help to implement and accommodate an equitable, fresh way of working.

Why not let people work anytime??

John Lam, Design strategist & Director Workplace Strategies at JLL, takes the hybrid work discussion one step further. Not only does he believe in working from any place, he believes that companies should invest in hybrid work at any time.

"We have to embrace diversity in the workplace. People behave differently based on their biorhythm. And they have different preferences for working. The conventional 9 to 5 job no longer exists. Organizations have to accommodate different bio rhythms and working needs."

In order to truly thrive in our global economy, companies should explore a more people-oriented workplace. Since the workplace is all about people, why not give employees the opportunity to work according to their own personal preferences of work? Consider flexible schedules, have people working when it suits them, according to biorhythm, meetings with colleagues in other time zones, or work-life balance. And that working at different times may have serious implications in our workplace design. Think of the integration of new technologies, designing smaller workstations equipped for focus work and creating spaces for hybrid collaboration.

Why not let people work anywhere?

With the laptop and the mobile as the main connection to the world, employees have the freedom to move & work from anywhere. Today work is distributed, global and flexible. Organizations need to support work no matter where it happens, with the right technologies and accommodations. That can be a well-equipped home office, secure access to platforms and data from a flex office or coffee bar, but it also includes well-designed offices that are enjoyable, social, and offer great places to focus & connect.

As 80% of people still want access to an office, mainly for collaboration and social interactions, the importance of making the office desirable again is crucial. Especially when employers want to bring gen z and millennials back, the changes will have to be impressive considering how much these generations love the flexibility of the home office.

How to make the office building sexy again?

To lure people into the office building, companies will have to create an environment that is unique and offers experiences that you simply can not have at home or on video. Don't focus on rows and rows of desks. Invest in hybrid collaboration spaces, for both groups and individuals. Always keeping in mind the playful, people-focused and social aspects of work.

"Enable casual conversations that you can't have over video. Collaboration is also about spending time in the office and investing in others. The office is the place to meet new colleagues, make connections within teams and contribute to a healthy, positive company culture."

Ryan Anderson, Vice President, Global research & Insights at MillerKnoll, gives his view on the importance of the office space in a post pandemic time. And it goes beyond creating great office chairs.

1. Make office work great again

Offer cool workspaces and consider offices as marketing products that attract employees. But don't lose focus and don't overdo it. In the end you don't actually need a climbing wall or rooftop bar, or even daycare. You need to get the basics right at the office. And today that is helping people connect and network. In a hybrid environment it is crucial to get quality time with your colleagues, to immerse yourself in a certain topic or strategy session and to have that face-to-face watercooler moments. It's about making life at the office better balanced, more sociable enjoyable, more productive.

2. Make video accessible and equitable at the office

Organizations that embrace hybrid work need to invest in spaces that support video collaboration. Next to private areas or booths where individuals can have their video meetings, there should be larger meeting and collaboration spaces equipped for hybrid work. The layout of these spaces should take technology into account: consider camera angles, acoustics before setting up the furniture in the room. Make sure everyone has access to high-quality technology and locations for more equitable hybrid work.

3. Build office spaces around people

When creating an office layout, don't look at the space you have available or the tech you need to cram into the room. Look at employees and the type of work they have to do. It's not about how technology and design physically relate, but about how companies can support desired work experiences with space as a kind of enabler for specific types of work. For example, foresee places for focus work or create mobile-enabled spaces with more screens for interactive collaboration.