workplace trends

Workplace trends impacting office design

Talented workers expect greater autonomy and a more engaging workplace experience than ever before
Monday, January 13, 2020
By John Anderson

Major workplace trends are creating the impetus for more sustainable, adaptable and productive places of employment. The push to reduce real estate costs and carbon footprints; the increase in telecommuting, hotelling and mobility; and the focus on establishing an employee experience that can rival that of the consumer world have led to a whole new way of looking at the workplace.

Simple ways to cut costs

In most cities, real estate, construction and maintenance costs are at a premium. This has made it critical for facility managers to understand how their space is being used and find ways to optimize it. Forward-thinking facility managers are applying analytics to space and asset usage to gain insight. Armed with this information, they can rethink and redesign space to meet the changing needs of office workers.

Optimizing space is not just a good business decision, it’s the green thing to do. Buildings are responsible for approximately 39 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, so using space more efficiently can help support sustainability goals.

Data collected from IoT building sensors can be used to project lighting, heating and energy usage. Based on business projections, hiring needs and space utilization data, predictive analytics can also anticipate changing space and real estate requirements, helping facility managers make better, faster decisions.

In addition to measuring utilization, facilities managers are using smart space usage tools to reduce wasted space and energy, such as eliminating ‘no-shows:’ room and desk bookings that people fail to claim. Collaboration and productivity suffer when spaces that appear fully booked cannot be used by those who need them. Then there is the hidden cost of carrying space that is not fully utilized.

New rules of talent management

The increase in telecommuting, hotelling or hot desking, and a mobile workforce has prompted companies to seek out more flexible options when leasing commercial workspace. According to a study by International Workplace Group, 62 per cent of businesses worldwide have a flexible workspace policy and 80 per cent of people, when faced with two similar employment offers, would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working.

As the war of attracting talent rages, organizations are striving to embrace working practices that offer greater choice in when, where and how work gets done. New technology can facilitate this flexibility. For example, using resource scheduling technology is an easy, intuitive way for staff to request – and facility managers to manage and analyze – space, resources and assets regardless of location and from any device. This expedites collaboration, increases productivity and avoids wasted time tracking down resources or getting to a meeting room only to find that another group has already booked it.

Enhancing the employee experience

The workplace of the future is where workers choose to be when it suits them. Facility managers must help provide a stimulating and fit-for-purpose experience in the office that workers can’t get elsewhere.

Studies suggest activity-based working is becoming a dominant model for workplace design. Employees are not tied to a specific spot but have a range of spaces for individual, quiet work, ad hoc and formal meetings, phone calls and creative work. This provides them with greater freedom, making them more active stakeholders in the workplace.

As well, a study by Swedish office design solutions firm Kinnarps found that nearly 70 per cent of employees enjoy working in an activity-based working environment as it gives them greater energy, helps them achieve better results and is more stimulating.

A bigger role for managers

Evidence is mounting that talented workers expect greater autonomy and a more engaging workplace experience than ever before. Facilities managers have a fundamental role to play in creating these conditions, from which peak performance emerges. This is made possible by adopting new processes and tools, including predictive analytics driven by machine learning, smart space utilization platforms and consumer-grade mobile functionality.

John Anderson is CEO of Smartway2, which provides next-generation workplace scheduling solutions for institutions and enterprises. He can be reached at janderson@smartway2.com.

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