Why Your Workplace Should Be a Venue for Collaboration

Written by Keith Jump

Having read and written many articles on the subject matter surrounding the workplace, in addition to reading many colleagues’ LinkedIn posts, Tweets, and comments on the subject—the reality is the traditional working week looks very different from what was expected pre-2020.

I used a phrase back in mid-2020, referencing the challenges of the modern workplace emerging from a post-pandemic world, “The workplace has changed—it’s a now a Venue for Collaboration, where a sea of desks will be replaced by open spaces designed to encourage people back to the office.”

That statement was speculative, as we were all grasping for a sense of normalcy and looking to industry experts to give advice, point the way, and provide reassurances.

Now we are living the future, the many corporate real estate projects and initiatives driven through necessity are materializing into physical spaces and venues designed to foster and encourage collaboration, hybrid styles of working, and the venue style workplace.

Where space imitates the home and café culture many of us have become accustomed to during the initial enforced home working, that has become many people’s preference.

Change has happened, revolution has been achieved, a coup against traditional working practices successful. And we have all played a part—whether the lead actor or supporting role—in transforming the global workplace and best practices for the future of work.

I recently read a response from one of my customers that was made in reaction to a workplace post on LinkedIn, their comments included the words “Five-day weeks and 9 to 5 is gone…. the office will need to act as a theater set, responding to daily ever-changing needs of the user (employee)”.

We are all seeing the need to incentivize employees to engage with the space, that driver—let’s be honest—is essential for us to create a brand, community, and workforce that has a sense of belonging and drives towards the key objectives their employer has set out for success in their chosen market.

However, as that comment and many similar confirm, our workplace doesn’t mean we must be in the office every day, all day, or indeed in the same location and physical space within their chosen place of work.

As we have recognized in the most successful solutions whether physical or digital, putting the person at the center of the experience, designing for their expectations, and changing needs is key to success. Having recently worked with a major UK telecommunications business, designing physical and digital spaces must be approached with an agile, creative, and innovative methodology underpinned by an absolute focus on the people that will use the space.

This needs to be achieved through clear leadership and clarity of communications to drive change, coupled with an integration of the physical and digital layers of our workplace.

Essential to this convergence is Human-Centric Design, putting people at the heart of your workplace, enabling a dynamic space and user experience to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce.

However, as we have seen recently, trends evolve in the built environment and workplace, particularly within the CRE sector.

Senior execs are starting to change prioritization as Sustainability moves ahead of Employee Wellbeing.

Although the priorities are driven by market and economic drivers—the connected workplace is here to stay. Integration of physical and digital layers, with an exceptional employee experience facilitated by smart tech, is essential to your workplace strategy.

Workplace Trends Through Recent Years

2016/2017

  • Smart: Intelligent buildings evolving into the Smart building and connected workplaces to support new office designs, innovation, and connected experiences

2018/2019

  • Real-Estate Efficiencies: Space Management, tracking occupancy using IT, Sensors, and the digital layer—maximizing data intelligence to provide actionable insights for CRE decision-makers

2020

  • Remote Working: During the pandemic, enabling remote working, security, communications, and virtual collaboration

2020/2021

  • Health and Safety: Return to work initiatives to promote employee safety through great comms, messaging, social distancing, and flexibility

2019/2021

  • Wellbeing: Employee Wellbeing, attracting and retaining talent through inspiring physical design and services to incentivize the user, being truly inclusive

2021/2022+

  • Green: Environmental, sustainability, and governance objectives, with businesses focusing on their Carbon net-zero goals through policies, process, technology, and supply chain


The Workplace as a Venue

If we need less space to facilitate a hybrid working style, what are the key aspects of the office and workplace essential to maximizing the employee experience?

Here are some questions I think we all need to answer. Over the coming weeks I’ll look to further discuss and challenge these questions in more Blogs and Roundtable events:

  • What’s the ‘why’ of the office now?
  • How often will you want or need to go there, and will a percentage of the workforce never return?
  • Can our real estate genuinely counter the risk of the Great Resignation?
  • How do we manage the challenge of space we are not using?
  • Is Digital Transformation essential to an effective workplace?
  • How can we measure and influence employee wellbeing through the physical and digital layer?
  • If Sustainability is now a priority for business, can connected spaces influence and help facilitate your ESG strategy?
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