Workplace Evolution – stepping into 2024
8th January 2024
The evolving world of work is driven by factors including technological advances, changing social and economic conditions, and shifting employee expectations. As we step into 2024, the winds of change continue to sweep through our workplaces, ushering in a new era of innovation, flexibility and adaptability.
Our team across the globe has been diligently observing and adapting to these changes. Employee wellbeing remains high on the agenda, with a growing emphasis on cultivating a culture of balance and wellbeing, and recognising the importance of a workplace that promotes physical and mental health. With this as a keystone, here we share some of our key insights that are shaping the future of work.
Employee experience driving employee-led choice
The rise of employee experience programmes reflects a significant shift in the way organisations approach their workforce. In today’s competitive job market, attracting top talent, while retaining and engaging their employees is a careful balance. Employee experience programmes go beyond traditional HR practices by focusing on the holistic wellbeing and satisfaction of workers.
In today's competitive job market, attracting top talent, while retaining and engaging their employees is a careful balance.
From flexible work arrangements and wellness initiatives, to professional development opportunities, prioritising the overall experience of employees is seeing companies foster a more positive and productive work environment. This in turn differentiates themselves as employers of choice in a dynamic and ever-evolving business landscape.
To fully achieve this, there must be investment in the retooling of leaders, giving them a clear structure with which to lead and advise teams effectively. Creating team ‘norms’ and culture that is intentional and transparent will support the implementation of a consistent workplace experience for everyone.
Innovative workplace design: from biophilic to neurodiverse
The way we think about office design has changed. No longer just about open-plan layouts, workspaces are more dynamic, diverse and tailored to employee needs. 2023 saw a surge in demand for versatile spaces that accommodate focused and collaborative work: cosy nooks for individual tasks to flexible meeting areas and easily reconfigured office space that suit a variety of team sizes and projects.
Moreover, workplace design is seeing a remarkable fusion of the natural world with the built environment. A growing emphasis on incorporating nature, biophilic design principles are taking centre stage, where lush greenery, natural lighting, and sustainable materials seamlessly integrate with modern architecture. A workspace that embraces the coexistence of nature and technology has become a hallmark of innovative and forward-thinking office designs, creating an environment that is functional and conducive to inspiration and creativity, all while enhancing employee wellbeing and productivity.
Neurodiversity in design is also gaining traction. This principle promotes universal or inclusive design that benefits everyone, regardless of their cognitive or sensory abilities. Recognising and celebrating the natural variation in neurological abilities and cognitive functioning among individuals, designers are thinking beyond the “average” user and are reimagining office space. These inclusive and accessible designs accommodate different neurological profiles, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more, for the benefit of all.
Flexible work models need structured choice
With the flexible work model here to stay, it poses unique challenges in terms of maintaining collaboration, communication and a sense of belonging among team members who are not all working in the same mode.
Technology is key: digital tools and platforms must enable seamless transitions between in-office and remote work.
Flexible working model pose unique challenges: maintaining collaboration, communication and a sense of belonging among team members who are not all working in the same mode.
Video conferencing, project management software, and communication apps are supporting the hybrid workforce. Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) tools better understand space and usage, sensor tools measure utilisation and the introduction of AI into the decision-making process all support flexible working.
However, one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. There remains a return-to-office pushback from employees that challenges leadership. We believe choices demand structure to ensure the impact on people and the place of work is the right one for the individual, the team and the organisation as a whole. This “structured choice” (read our article) helps formalise working styles and ensure a workplace is efficiently used.
Customised design solutions increasingly being sought
Our clients are seeking tailored solutions that align with their unique business needs; office spaces that reflect their brand identity, values and company culture. This has led to more custom-designed workplaces that serve as functional hubs for productivity and as brand ambassadors. From artwork and colour schemes to the incorporation of company mottos and mission statements, clients are keen to create an office environment that resonates with their employees and visitors.
Spaces are also being opened up to the community to expand the brand, increase utilisation of collaborative spaces, and to offset operational expenses...we see the changing use of workspaces grow.
Spaces are also being opened up to the community to expand the brand, increase utilisation of collaborative spaces, and to offset operational expenses. The prevalence of flexible work solutions has underpinned this pivot and we can only see the changing use of workspaces grow.
Competitiveness driving environmental consciousness
There is increasing interest in sustainable office practices. The circular economy – and more pertinently here, the circular workplace – designs out waste and retains the maximum possible value of resources. From our perspective, this includes eco-friendly building materials, energy-efficient designs, waste reduction programmes, furniture re-use and upcycling strategies and the integration of renewable energy sources. Green certifications and environmental responsibility have become key selling points for many businesses. Attaining accreditation at a building level is also on the rise including WELL, Fitwell and LEED.
More and more companies are acknowledging that success is not just measured in productivity and financial strength, but in the happiness and fulfilment of all those who call the office their second home. With any transformation, the people, the physical place and the supporting technology must remain at the heart of any workplace strategy.
The people, the physical place and the supporting technology must remain at the heart of any workplace strategy.
If workspace changemakers acknowledge and embrace these trends their companies, employees, suppliers, partners and communities will collectively shape the future of work for the better.