Currently, businesses are confronted with big decisions on how to plan for the future workspace. Office space has always been one of the largest expenses, second only to the investment made in people. Remote work has changed the rules of working with many companies increasing productivity while the office sits empty. The challenge now is how to plan for the office while embracing the changes around people, process and culture.
Office planning should balance retaining today’s workforce while attracting the future workforce. While this can be complicated, it pushes planners to make sure the workspace is more flexible than ever. Most research indicates that teams will use workspaces for collaboration and connection, which also supports the development of the next generation of employees. Interestingly this leaves focus work to take place outside of the office. For older generations, this is preferred, but for millennials and Generation Z this can be challenging as many are sharing housing and may not have space at home to focus. Ultimately workspace must adapt to easily support collaborative and focus work modes to create the desired outcome.
Technology has always been the fuel for change in the workspace. Working remotely, was a norm for many before the pandemic, and is now embraced by millions. Collaboration and project management tools connect and track so that where work happens is irrelevant. Planning for the next office should include “Free address” strategies to leverage space beyond the 1:1 employee/desk ratio. This strategy will require management systems to facilitate workspace reservations for both focus and collaboration areas. This technology also provides utilization data identifying trends for the facility design changes needed to support wellness and productivity. Continuous feedback enables companies to adjust space to meet employee needs inspiring collaboration and output!
It is a fact that for all the changes we experience there is still a need for community and connection. Company culture is the engine that drives results! Today’s workspace evolution impacts decisions on how we generate the energy & momentum needed to attract and retain our teams to produce great results. Our younger generations are looking for a thriving culture that many of the older generations take for granted. Gen Z is the first true digital native, they want a workspace that connects them with their team and mentors. Ultimately technology can only go so far, and we still need in-person connection to succeed.
What we know is that the office will not go away. People need connection to create, learn and grow. Planning the future of the office is an excellent opportunity to set up a game-changing experience for the workforce. The core of a successful workspace is flexibility which enables adaption to change. Today’s rate of change is the greatest in human history and will continue to move faster. Workspace obsolescence is the greatest risk to the investment in commercial real estate and now more than ever can be complicated by people, process, and culture. To simplify this complex challenge, engage the people who do the work for their input and plan to deliver the right results for your teams!