Creating the workplace of the future

First came the cell phone, next it was the open plan office and soon after it was hot desking. So what next in collaborative office design?

According to workspace expert, Andrew Simmons from Unispace, his take on the office of the future is a “liberated team environment” that comprises of activity-based working. It also involves fully non-territorial workplaces, meaning employees can work from anywhere in the world.

Together with his colleague and fellow workspace strategy expert, Kate Horton, Andrew delivered a fascinating presentation at our Deloitte Private Club in Auckland on May 8.

Andrew and Kate were part of a night focussing on the impact our environment plays in supporting employees and organisations to achieve their goals.

The importance of collaboration

With companies placing an increasing emphasis on retaining talent, it’s more important than ever to offer an environment that allow employees flexibility and enjoyment, while fostering the ability to work more collaboratively.

In a global study of HR leaders recently completed by Unispace, respondents noted that a change in workspace design has the greatest impact on knowledge sharing, closely followed by improving culture and employee engagement. Knowledge sharing is seen to be highly valuable in the ideas and entrepreneur-based economy that we are cultivating.

The "P" word

But does changing your workspace boost productivity? This was one of the big questions put to Kate and Andrew at the Deloitte Private Club session.

While collaboration was seen as an asset for organisations, Deloitte Private Club attendees wanted to know that by having more of these spaces, their teams wouldn’t simply fill up their time ‘chatting’ and not ‘doing’. Kate says there is such a thing as ineffective and effective collaboration.

“We will start to see facilitation roles within teams becoming more prominent in the future and more emphasis on getting the best out of collaboration.”

She went onto add that there has been a shift in how we view productivity, from an individual focus to being more about what a company as a whole can produce.

“It’s also around embracing and accepting that chatting with a colleague over a coffee can be just as productive as churning out a report.”

Kate also added that when creating a new or refreshed office space, there are usually three distinct work modes and areas that employees need: worksettings to support individual work – whether that be 'do not disturb' focus areas or more routine/process type work; a range of spaces for collaboration; and a hub to socialise. These spaces all serve different functions and employees need a mix of the three. 

One design doesn’t fit all - what does this mean for your office environment?

The design of your workspace has to fit what your company values and aims to achieve.

Andrew says he’s worked with companies where collaboration was their highest value, so their main space was designed for people to freely interrupt their colleagues, with a smaller 'noise-free' focus zone at the back of the floor.

“For example, I like paperless workplaces but then you have designers who need their sketch paper and their work pads so that style won’t work for them,” he adds.

“At the end of the day, it’s about embracing people’s differences, not driving an ideology.”

What's next in workspace design

The workplace of the future is exciting, dynamic, uses less paper rather than going paperless, and is wireless and liberated. It’s a place where work is done in the space that suits the project or task, be it a meeting room, a café, a kitchen or a desk. It’s a place where a company can have employees across the globe and still feel connected to their organisation through technology and we’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out!

09 May, 2017 by Emily McLean, Expert insights

Emily McLean

Emily McLean

Emily McLean works in the Deloitte marketing team and closely with Deloitte Private. She loves telling the stories of those individuals and businesses leaving their mark in New Zealand's SME space while delivering news and insights to help business owners grow their companies. 

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