Throughout this series, it has become clear that across Europe at least, the role of the workplace has been significantly impacted by the events of 2020. We have heard about the changes that have already taken place, including working from home, and we have examined the role both employees and employers have when it comes to this increasingly popular work format.
In today’s piece, we ask our experts to share their insight on what qualities individuals will now be looking for that make a workplace attractive.
We begin with Marco Checchi, partner & Interior Architect at Studio Stockholm, who expects that working from home has made a big impact on what people will be looking for in a workplace.
“Everyone responsible for designing offices must ask the simple question; Do my employees want to come to the office before sitting at home to work? If the answer is not an obvious yes then you should consider making sure you get a yes on that question. This will lead to better-designed workplaces going forward.”
Niklas Madsen, founder of Swedish workplace research firm Superlab suggests that the workplace itself is not the most attractive proposition an employer can make anymore.
“The attractiveness after Corona will not be about a "good looking workplace" It will be about the freedom (of the employee) to continue to rule over their own time and work. We know that this is at the top of every millennial's wish list and after having to "try" it, even the previous generations will understand the delight.”
The idea that employees enjoy a degree of autonomy over their working day should not come as a surprise, but perhaps the number of workers who have been exposed to personal freedoms over the last few months will considerably increase the demand for it.
If workers are still eventually brought back into the office, the residual impact of this experience may increase demand for a more flexible workspace, where employees are free to decide where and how they work, seeking the right conditions for the right tasks, as opposed to being chained to their individual desks. Agile, activity-based workspaces may become more widespread.
Judith Dorlandt, Hospitality Group: “I think that the office will get a whole new purpose. The question will be if the office will still be called an office? 'Office' suggests that we go somewhere to work (for some people it is always the same place for others it is a place where they can work) but this whole situation taught the most of us that we can work anywhere but we need to find the place which comforts our needs to work - a more mood-orientated workplace.”
Helen Parton, Workplace design journalist and Co-author of Total Office Design: “Enlightened employers which were already offering flexible working had seen they needed to make their offices more attractive pre-Covid and now that’s especially true as homeworking has become the norm. Attractive workplaces will be well-spaced, light and airy and smart technology will be much more commonplace.”
Mustafa Afsaroglu, Co-Founder Taner’s & Sons Design Studio: “An attractive office, to me, should be like a holistic members club, somewhere I want to go and spend time. A variety of areas/rooms (with differing atmospheres) you can work from, hang out, focus, exercise, socialise, brainstorm and participate… A space that is community-based allowing you to accomplish tasks where you choose to.”
For some, this rapidly changing workplace landscape is a bit ambitious. However, there is a general agreement that an attractive workplace will be one that puts more focus on collaboration and meeting, with the acceptance that individual work can be carried out remotely.
Johanna Munck, Vice Director, Strategisk Arkitektur; “What we hear and see so far does not give a clear picture that everything will change dramatically. Meeting to collaborate, learn from each other and create together is still a real need and once you do, the office needs to be attractive, flexible and well thought out to enable productive work on an efficiently utilized space.”
Karin Ståhl, CEO & Workplace Strategist, GoToWork: “Workstations for collaborative work will dominate before workstations for individually focused work. That individual work we will probably do from home in the future.”
And for others, they see that when the office becomes more about the sharing of ideas and coming together, an attractive workplace is one that creates a shared identity, instilling a sense of commonality within a brand, and is above all, experiential.
Niklas: “As staff spend more time elsewhere, it becomes even more important that they feel the community and the corporate culture when they are in the office. The concept of "employer branding" takes on a completely new dimension with new parameters to think about.”
Kirsty Angerer, Ergonomist; “I want to come to a workplace that provides an experience. If you’ve ever travelled through Singapore airport, for example, you’ll know that you are part of an experience. The beautiful landscapes and sounds of birds singing as you travel to your gate, navigating the butterfly garden as you wait for your gate to be announced, the waterfalls in the middle of the terminal bringing nature to you. This is the type of environment that I personally want to walk into, something that evokes joy and happiness.”
Thanks again to all our correspondents. Join us for our final round of Office Talk next week.
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