How to stay on top of the evolving workplace
Workplaces are evolving faster than ever before as companies seek to attract new talent and better support their staff. But how do developers and designers keep pace in an increasingly competitive market?
That was the hot topic at a recent roundtable hosted by professional services company Turner & Townsend, and architects tp bennet. Attended by occupiers from the worlds of tech, finance, law and non-profits, we got their first-hand insight into what’s hot and what’s not, and the challenges of creating the next generation of work environments.
The future of work
As occupiers demand more, designers continue to push the boundaries to help clients differentiate themselves from their competitors and make their office space work more effectively.
The trend towards providing facilities that support wellbeing – from gyms and yoga studios, to meditation areas and mother’s rooms – has spread beyond the sandbox of tech companies and now wouldn’t seem out of place in other, more traditional, industries.
Likewise, the free food model is increasingly common and recognised as a popular tool for attracting younger talent.
Because ultimately, in the age of co-working, the challenge for businesses is to create work spaces where people want – not need – to be.
This means catering to a more diverse range of working styles, and ensuring new environments are adaptable and versatile for staff – whether they want privacy, areas to come together, or stand out spaces to host meetings or events. Physical offices are increasingly seen as places to facilitate face to face engagement, rather than necessarily to get work done. So designers are giving more thought to how they incorporate coincidental meeting spaces, such as large staircases and lobbies where people can naturally cross paths, interact and socialise.
As exciting as the future of our workplace experiences may sound, many of these innovations rely on people understanding how to use their new space. Educating staff on the change that is happening is an essential, but often forgotten, component of any transformation programme. Because as our offices continue to break the traditional and familiar mould, on-floor hosts and ‘change champions’ are vital to harnessing the true potential of these new environments. Contemporary workspace thinking is as much about humanising the office, as it is about innovating.
Right price, great quality
As occupiers strive to create aspirational workspaces, they must also ensure their office fit-out schemes are being delivered effectively.
Monitoring contracts closely and taking a more collaborative approach with suppliers, will help bring a deeper understanding of the pressures currently faced by contractors, ultimately enabling clients to better mitigate risk.
The key to delivering a successful fit-out project is to work hand in glove with contractors through the entire journey. From piloting projects over one floor before committing to a complete refit, through to training staff and reviewing data on outcomes and usage upon completion, clients and contractors need to be collaborating and understanding what is or isn’t working and adapt accordingly.
The concept of pilots and post occupancy reviews are nothing new, but the industry continues to be sluggish in implementing meaningful assessments and using these insights to drive improvements. Including them in contracts would give them more teeth, and ultimately give end users a better workplace experience.
It’s clear there is huge ambition and innovation in the specification of office fit-outs today – and the industry supply chain needs to follow suit. With a will among both developers and occupiers to work more closely together, we can deliver better, more forward-thinking fit-out projects. With the right design and procurement strategies, the UK office market should remain buoyant and bourgeoning order books should help weather any coming storm.