Your Workplace Should Make You Happy

The workplace of the future will feature a more collaborative environment plus creature comforts that attract new talent and keep current employees happy, productive

The workplace of the future will feature a more collaborative environment plus creature comforts that attract new talent and keep current employees happy, productive

The future of work is changing. As we begin to see future trends in the workplace shift, advancements in technology and the traditional 9 to 5 mentality move toward an “anywhere, anytime” workday, so offices need to adjust environments accordingly to what makes employees more productive.

In response, Business Interiors by Staples and Metropolis Magazine teamed up for a second consecutive year to host their Workplace of the Future Design Competition, an event that challenged designers and architects to imagine the office of tomorrow. The winners and finalists revealed interesting trends that reflect how we work and why that environment is changing. With that in mind, here are some ideas companies should embrace as they move toward the future.

Settle the open vs. private office space design layout

Workplace of the future
Text100’s new office in San Francisco’s financial district features lots of open collaboration space.

Truth is, satisfied employees are more productive, so offices need to find ways to incorporate both open and private styles of work. Many companies are redesigning their office layouts to include collaborative, open spaces but also small, private areas for those who need a quiet place to focus. This was a common theme in many of the Workplace of the Future entries, where many entries included comfortable, quiet spaces to complement an open office layout.

The (office) is used as much for recruitment and retention than anything. It should feel like a place you want to go to because you are spending eight-plus hours of your day being there.

Robert Elia, regional leasing director for Equity Office Properties Trust, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in North America, said his clients sometimes opt for open-space floor plans because they promote collaboration. Plus, space is often at a premium, especially somewhere such as downtown San Francisco, so cost is an additional factor.

“Space efficiency is real driver here,” Elia said. “What we’re trying to provide is an open and flexible workspace; to provide a flexibility for the ebb and flow of what (tenants) needs are.”

Adjust to the future world of work and technology

Workplace of the future
Conference rooms at 100 Montgomery feature iPad scheduling and updates.

Mobile tech in the workforce is on the rise. Most employees have a laptop, smartphone and possibly a tablet that allows them to work anywhere in the office. Becoming unchained from a desk can elevate productivity levels, as well as facilitate impromptu brainstorms with other employees. Because of this, employers need to ensure that their offices have ample power sources so employees can work from different locations.

Then there are other technologies, such as Telepresence and connected conference rooms that offer Web-based reservations and real-time status updates.

“It’s almost like an iPad application that allows for much more interaction when it’s time to book these rooms,” Elia said.

Incorporate opportunity for employee wellness

Workplace of the future
The fitness center at 100 Montgomery.

This could be as simple as incorporating more natural light, a proven mood-booster, into your office plans and layout. Many Workplace of the Future entries actually featured gardens within the office where employees could take cultivation breaks throughout the day to enjoy nature’s health benefits. Other perks, such as bike storage for pedaling commuters, fitness centers and on-site retail also adds to the allure of coming to work.

One of the things we did was look at the amenities,” Elias said, referring to a recent upgrade at one of his properties. “How do we get this property attractive to tenants in this day and age?”

The property, located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, now features a full fitness center with locker rooms, enough storage to accommodate 30 bikes and a Starbucks on the ground floor. Of course, it’s not realistic to think that every company could get — or want — a Starbucks in their own backyard. But open spaces that encourage collaboration, technology to aid efficiency and the little things such as natural light could help boost morale and even attract top talent to your organization.

“The (office) is used as much for recruitment and retention than anything,” Elia said. “It should feel like a place you want to go to because you are spending eight-plus hours of your day being there.”

 

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