Key considerations for your future workplace

The work environment
As the nature of work evolves through generational change and technology, the workplace is transforming and the expectations of employees are ever increasing. It is no longer ‘the place where we work’ it is now a part of our daily life experience.

A precondition of designing for experience, is that the drivers framing this experience are understood specific to the user and the organisation. Creating a human centred approach where experience is consciously addressed. Brand, identity and culture can drive innovation and creativity. Wellness elements and flexible working arrangements facilitated by today’s technology can positively add to our experience. Different work style settings can accommodate the way we like to work when at the office. Ideal conditions contribute to collaboration and improved productivity, reductions in lost work time, attracting and retaining the right talent. 

What considerations should be foremost in your journey for your optimum work environment?

Supporting your business direction
Before you start on the journey of designing the new workplace, you need to understand what you want it to be, what you want it to achieve and what is required to transition the organisation into the new environment and mindset.

The workplace strategy is essentially a piece of work that aligns the working patterns of the organisation with the physical office space, the company’s business strategy, goals and corporate culture. It looks at the whole organisation and how the office environment should be structured. This includes spacing, branding, furniture, technology and more. 

Have you prepared your workplace strategy and does it align with where the business/workplace is going and how you are going to get it there?

People are at the core

The employees must be at the forefront of the discussion about any new workplace. Businesses recognise that workspaces need to accommodate diversity and focus on the employee experience. Understanding their needs and desires and involving them in the process is an essential part of the journey. The will create engagement, ownership and positive business outcomes.

An employee’s experience stems directly from the environment they operate in and the engagement they have with that environment. Studies have demonstrated that business outcomes are improved when employees are engaged and motivated. 

Structuring working groups and involving change management are essential elements in the process. Engaging the employees in the vision and shifting their thinking and behaviour from the old workplace to the new workplace through a structured change management process can bring benefits to the organisation.

Is your journey maximising the experience and minimising the mystery for your employees? 

Real estate effectiveness

Every business’s spatial requirements are different and rent is also a large cost to a business. So, it is important to find the equilibrium that delivers the right amount of the right type of space. 

There are some common factors when working out how much floor space is needed. It is important to assess the current and future needs of your business. This includes the effectiveness of the utilisation of the space. 

The notion that ‘if you are not at a desk you are not working’ or ‘everyone needs a fixed desk position’ is old school thinking. Open workspaces and flexible workspace arrangements means that work can be undertaken at multiple places including off site. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between working style and real estate requirement.

Does the real estate solution accommodate the right balance of space for the usage patterns, needs and aspirations of the organisation?

Aligning brand and workplace

Brand alignment and reinforcement can be directly enhanced by design and through the behaviours of the individuals within the workplace.
Design should be a differentiator to create a unique environment.  Workplaces can be entities that connect people to the brand and reinforce the company’s cultural values. Having a unique identity gives people something they can positively identify with. 

A good employee experience can also positively contribute to brand improvement and reinforcement. This comes from satisfying their needs within the workplace.

Is your brand represented through your workplace and does the workplace environment support the culture of the organisation?

Technology in the workplace

Technology has had a major impact on shaping today’s workforce. Technology is faster and the expectation is that we must be more productive and responsive. However, time for contemplation and consideration is still required for mature decision making.

Technology enables staff to work remotely as well as in any location within the office. It allows connectivity to offsite locations, associated offices and with third parties. Smart phone apps extend the capabilities even further. They can manage physical security control, allow you to order a coffee, scan documents or communicate with others.

Where an organisation is flexible, the capabilities of the technology needs to be able to match the workplace requirements in every way. Keeping technology simple, easy to use and readily available are all important criteria to ensure usability and efficiency are maximised.

How will technology be used, how will it help work life and what level of technology is right for the organisation?

Design

Design must do more than look good. It must be ‘fit for purpose’. That means it must enhance creativity and productivity, it must be efficient in its use of space, it must provide an environment that is suitable for the type of work being undertaken.

Design doesn’t happen in isolation. It is a collaborative process that requires a deep engagement, thoughtful consideration and open communication. Design can change the way people think, act and work. Design is also a process that commands inclusiveness, a process for challenge, review, adjustment and alignment. Ultimately, the design outcome benefits from understanding the user, their mindset, behavior, triggers, and aspirations. 

Is the design team aligned with the client’s vision and are you involved as a client?

Collaboration, focus, learning or socialising

We all work differently and our effectiveness is determined by the environment that we are in. The workplace can allow for the ability to pick and choose a work setting depending upon our work needs. 
In today’s generally open plan environment, general communication can be distractive at times. The ability to focus is influenced by the physical workplace, the team dynamics, peoples work styles, the organisations culture and management style. Giving the employee the ability to select the right environment and work setting for the job at hand can increase productivity. Spaces for collaboration, socialising, quiet enjoyment and interaction all contribute to performance effectiveness, brand, health and wellness. 

Does your workplace support individual, group and team workstyles with amenity, culture and process?

Health, wellbeing and sustainability 

More consistently we are taking an interest in the health of our environment, the health of ourselves and now the health of our work place. Wearable devices and smart phones carry apps that provide constant data and reminders for our physical health and wellbeing.
We all spend a considerable amount of time in buildings. Today, there are standards such as Well and Greenstar that are guiding the design quality of the indoor spaces we frequent. Greenstar is targeted at the building elements whilst Well is more focused on the occupants. These guideline standards look to providing conditions that improve the health and wellbeing of the occupants which in turn provides benefits to the organisation.

Is your workplace providing a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of the employees?

Finishing the work

So, you have worked with your team in preparing the design, construction is complete, change management has prepared the team for a new way of thinking and you are now in your new workplace. You have put in all the measures to make the workplace a happy, healthy and presumably more productive place. This is all great. However, the journey is not yet complete and there is still some work to be done.

A post occupancy evaluation should be undertaken to check if the design matches the performance criteria established at the start of the project. The space does not have to be static. Spaces can be adapted to accommodate how people are ultimately working. Through measuring the variables and adjusting, the maximum employee performance, wellbeing and satisfaction can be achieved.

The organisation has likely gone through some change and old habits die hard. To support the hard work that has been undertaken, reinforcing actions through communication and leadership behaviour, must be maintained so the new ways of working are cultivated, practiced and become second nature.

Partner of choice
A client’s investment into the workplace is significant in respect of time, intelligence and expenditure. Having an independent, informed and trusted advisor to help navigate the journey with you, can deliver significant benefits. Colliers International Project Leaders are specialist in this area. Our Design Management and Project Leadership team will lead, manage and realise innovation at every step to ensure we accelerate your success.

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Mark Thebridge

Design Director

Sydney CBD

Mark joined Colliers International Project Leaders as Design Director in September 2018. He brings to this role 30+ years of Development and Architectural experience which he has acquired across projects nationally and internationally. 

He has broad ranging skills which traverse a projects lifecycle from the strategic and conceptual development to the final delivery and realisation. He has a sound understand of the development drivers and triggers and how to reconcile the forces influential in creating successful project outcomes. Through his lateral thinking abilities and attention to design detail, he has achieved innovative solutions within challenging projects.

He acknowledges the privilege it has been to contribute to the structure of our environment through architecture and development. Noting how these contributions make positive differences, enhance people's experiences and enrich the quality of their lives.

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