Did you know we spend about 13 years of our lives at work? The only activity we spend more time doing is sleeping! So with around 94% of service professionals clocking over 50 hours a week at work, it makes sense that smart companies are prioritising future-proofing workplace strategy and design to keep employees engaged and happy.
One study found that happy employees are 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts and Gallup linked highly engaged teams to a 21% boost in profitability. So, how do we future-proof the office to ensure efficiency, productivity and profitability into tomorrow and beyond?
The challenge is to understand a future in which the workplace is a place where knowledge is created and transferred, and is not just the physical spaces in which this will take place. With the rise in remote and flexible working, we must conceive of a future workplace that goes beyond four walls and uses technology to connect employees and teams.
Let’s delve into ways you can future-proof your workplace design.
Have a strategy in place
Workplace strategy is underpinned by a knowledge of how people work and how the workplace can support this. The evidence used to create a workplace strategy extends beyond assumptions and examines the granularity of employee experiences. It also takes into account the types of work performed and how the workplace design, fit-out, furniture and more can be used to boost productivity.
When designing a future-proofed workplace, the strategy is your first step. Think of your workplace strategy as a sort of knowledge architecture, a framework that allows you to turn data into actionable knowledge to improve creativity, increase employee productivity, reduce costs and boost profits.
Consider the business’s future plans
Successful workplace design will take into account the overarching business objectives and plans for the future of the business. Looking at the bigger picture as well as the more granular details will help you to understand the current workplace and the workplace of the future.
It is important to consider what the business will look like in three, five or even 10 years time. Not only is it crucial to think about what a successful future looks like for the business, but it is equally as important to consider what future challenges and problems might arise and how these will affect the workplace.
Focus on the wellbeing and health of workers
The office of the future takes its employees’ health and wellbeing seriously. This includes their satisfaction, comfort and happiness in the workplace because, without a doubt, our surroundings have a huge effect on all of the above.
We all now know that sitting is the new smoking, so a clever workplace design encourages and promotes movement throughout the day. Sit and stand desks are becoming more commonplace, and placing interior staircases between office floors and restrooms away from workspaces are all inspiring more movement for employees.
Another trend we’ll see more of is biophilic design, bringing natural materials, more light, greenery and views of the outside into the workplace. Why? A study by the University of Technology in Sydney found that introducing plants into the workplace can reduce stress by more than 30 percent, reduce workplace anger and hostility by 44 percent, and decrease fatigue by almost 38 percent.
Enable fluid & flexible workspaces
A future-proofed workplace is one that promotes and encourages flexible working practices to help employees gain better work-life balance, be more productive, reduce stress and commuting hours, and gives them the choice of where and when to work to maximise their working style.
Flexible working also allows the office space to be used more intensively and on an as-needs-basis, rather than holding space for workers who may travel a lot, work different hours or spend business hours time out of the office.
The future workplace will also need to consider the coexistence of more generations, with up to four generations, all with different working styles working side-by-side.
In 2020 and beyond, we will see more blended offices, or activity-based design, which are often modular and adaptable and include a mix of private, semi-private and open workspaces. Think more common areas, casual-seating in spaces and unenclosed breakout zones.
Implement performance-boosting technology
While technology in the office isn’t anything new, it is evolving rapidly, and a future-proofed design needs to be able to adapt.
Before getting lost in the array of technical gadgetry available for the office, start by considering what problems or issues your business will be facing in the future and how technology can help to solve these.
With the rise in remote and flexible working, future workplaces need technology to be integrated into the environment so employees, whether they are in the office or out of it, can get on with work quickly and efficiently.
Get help from workplace design experts like Axiom
It’s clear our workplaces are in a state of accelerated change. Innovative technology, new generations entering the workforce, different intentions around employee health and wellness, and evolving work styles are all changing the face of the office. Businesses are constantly exploring how they can future-proof their workplace design to ensure offices will stand the test of time.
If you want a future-proofed workplace design that helps you achieve key business objectives now and into the future, then you need a workplace design partner.