Looking at the year ahead, Kleopatra Kivrakidou, Channel Marketing Manager at Ergotron, anticipates that businesses will be putting more emphasis into transforming their workplace environments and bringing workforce strategies into the present day. The aim is to boost employee health and wellbeing, improve productivity, and ultimately become an employer that will attract future talent.
When it comes to managing talent, the current generation has much higher expectations of their employers to provide a quality working environment. According to the Mercer 2019 Global Talent Trends survey, employees in the UK thrive at work when they receive recognition for their contributions, are able to manage their work/life balance and function in a lively work environment. It’s therefore not surprising that businesses are re-evaluating office environments to ensure employees feel they are able to work appropriately no matter what they are doing – for example, collaborative meeting spaces or quiet areas for autonomous work.
Taking this into consideration, here are five workplace trends that will transform the work environment this year.
- Progressing to the activity-based office
Although the open plan office environment was put in place to improve collaboration and communication within teams, research has found it can also have the opposite effect on productivity, creative thinking and employees’ attention spans.
Employers are acknowledging this and realising that one size no longer fits all. It is a key driver for transforming workplaces by allowing employees to work in more varied, adaptable office spaces that cater to the type of work they are doing. This takes into account the alignment of space, interactions and behaviours to optimise employees’ productivity and engagement.
Examples of this include allocating specific areas for collaborative and private working. Those employees needing the head space to strategise on a project or write a heavy proposal will reap the benefits of going to quiet areas of the building. If it’s collaboration and team discussion that’s needed, the more open, social areas, even moving around furnishings and desks to support the team’s requirements, will best support this.
- Moving from hot-desking to hoteling
Some modern businesses have taken a brave step in the workplace by implementing a ‘hoteling’ seating policy, where workspaces are not dedicated to particular employees or teams. What this means however, is that depending on what the workers’ needs are on that day, they are able to reserve desks or meeting rooms, instead of using an assigned workstation.
The hoteling design allows workers to have more control and flexibility over their own work environment, including who they sit next to, which has a positive impact on their workplace productivity. A recent study by Gensler has found that organisations that enable employees to work when and where best suits their work needs are more likely to perform highly and more likely to unlock creative innovation.
Nowadays, organisations across different industries such as Google and venture capital firms are benefiting from the influence of flexible furniture and layouts, which better support productivity. Organisations are using different strategies by introducing height-adjustable desks to counteract sedentary lifestyle risks as well as encouraging different forms of interaction in the workplace such as meetings or quiet-based working.
- Creating a brand through the office environment
Organisations now look at the office environment as a way to express their cultural values and show how much they care and value employees. By carefully analysing how people really interact, and what workers actually need to see them through the day, they’re creating adaptable office environments that improves employee morale, engagement and commitment.
Having quick touchpoint sections that meet the needs of digital nomads who like to move through the office and locate themselves where they’ll most benefit from chance interactions, to adopting natural materials and plants to create focal points that reduce workplace stress and stimulate creativity, they’re enabling unique workplace experiences that are devised to attract and retain employees.
- Flexible workspaces for the flexible workforce
Over the past few years, there has been a drastic shift in the makeup of the workforce with an increase in freelancers, contractors and mobile road warriors. Due to this, the office environment is having to adjust more quickly to make way for highly diverse workforces that can change at a moment’s notice.
The modern workspace is seeing an increased take-up of co-working spaces and subscription-based offices such as WeWork, which is great for businesses that want to remain agile and keep budgets under control. Trying to find ways to allow more flexible and productive workplaces that suit the needs of a whole range of different types of workers is on the rise.
- Preparing the workplace for Generation Z
Generation Z is the next generation entering the workforce. What makes Gen Z different compared to previous generations is the huge emphasis placed on collaborative working and human interactions. However, they also expect to have access to more formal private spaces designed specifically for heads-down work.
Trying to adapt the workplace to meet these conflicting needs is just the beginning. The new generation of workers also wants greater freedom and control over the way they work and value flexible work arrangements that integrate task-oriented features that enable to them to manage how, and with whom, they work. Generation Z workers will expect to find adjustable desks and mobile furniture that allows them to dynamically transform their working spaces as they see fit.
2020 will see businesses aiming to transform their workspaces and office environments to encompass the advancing needs and changing demographics of the workplace. These organisations will see how their workspace can support the changing requirements of employees and develop them into more agile and flexible modern spaces in which to work better.