What employees want from the workspace post-covid
Covid-19 has turned our personal lives and working worlds upside down. After months of forced participation in a comprehensive work-from-home experiment, our expectations around work and the workplace have fundamentally changed accelerating a trend already evident over the past two decades (Morgan Lovell 2021).
The workplace has shifted from a binary space where the choice was between working at a desk or in a meeting room to an open-plan desking environment. After working from the comfort of home, what do employees want and need from their place of work? For employers this will depend on their business, the culture and style of leadership. Employees will need a fully balanced work environment that provides a place for collaboration and a social hub. The space should inspire and reflects the company’s vision with a focus on wellbeing.
Synergies bring people together and relationships are formed. Chance encounters, struggles, challenges and shared victories nurture the soul of a company. Companies make progress through their ability to innovate. Innovations come about when people are in the same room. All the video conferencing technology in the world will never replace this human need to be together.
Offices need to become destinations. The office location, size, design, layout and how it makes employees feel are some of the issues that will require attention.
At Grant, we have looked at way employers can create an environment that will attract employee back to the workplace.
Sustainability has risen to the top of the corporate agenda, with companies now strategically developing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agendas across the board. Companies are now ensuring their buildings align with their ESG goals, and in some cases moving to ensure their offices will meet their values in these areas. Companies want to see buildings that are energy efficient, using sustainable materials and gaining the correct accreditations, before they even consider taking office space.
Collaboration is now one of the top priorities for employers, they understand employees come to the office to work with team members and actively collaborate together instead of their focused work. Knight Frank’s recent study of 373 global companies showed that 55% of businesses will be investing in collaboration spaces in the next 3 years. Moving away from the traditional formal meeting rooms, companies are creating more causal collaboration zones throughout their office space, with comfortable seating and digital integration to allow remote workers to join discussions. These areas are designed to not only spark creativity and work flow, but also help to connect employees with their colleagues and work place.
Bringing Nature to the Office
Biophilic design, is the concept of connecting with nature in man-made environments, it isn’t a new concept, initially created in 1984, the term “biophilia” was popularised by biologist Edward Wilson, although in recent years designs have embraced the trend in office especially when the benefits were seen. The use of plants and greenery thought out office spaces has shown to increase creativity and reduce absenteeism, with a recent study from the BRE group recorded an 8% increase in productivity and a 13% increase in employee well-being. Google is so enamoured with the concept, their new Manhattan headquarters will move the concept further to include, a honey harvest and welcomed birds and bees.
Fluid Office Design
With different employee numbers daily, offices can no longer be the rows of desks we have been used to. The office space needs to be able to adapt and carry out many different functions. Many companies are now experimenting with fluid design within their space. Easily moveable and quickly adaptable are key requirements. Google have created building block walls, with built in electricity and plumbing which can quickly create rooms of any size. They are also experimenting with blow up walls to create ad hoc meeting rooms.
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