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What is the Future of Your Office?

The Shifting Role of Your Office


When we're speaking to company executives about their workspace challenges and needs, one question we nearly always get asked is "what is the future of the office?". It's a very important and fair question. However, there is no one answer. The future of the office is different for every company.

 

That said, all the turmoil around working models and commercial real estate in recent years has created 3 key changes: The end of the office as the only option for work, the need for the office to offer real performance benefits for companies, and the need to consider real estate as a strategic asset rather than a cost centre.

 

In this article, we'll go through each one, explaining why it matters to your company and what you can do about it. By the end, you'll know about the most important factors shaping the future of your office, and how you can prepare your office for the future.

 

Attraction, not Compulsion

Over the last few years, remote and hybrid work have proven to be viable, popular options with employees. Given how popular these working models are, you can't just order your people to work from the office full time. They will either leave your company, or stay begrudgingly and resist the change. Both are very damaging.

 

The solution is to attract, rather than force, your staff back into the office. You can do this by creating a workspace worth the commute. This means creating a space that they prefer to working remotely. For them, this likely means creating a visually attractive space with meaningful amenities and a chance to connect with their colleagues. As a result, your company will benefit from improved communication and engagement.

 

Of course, what attracts your people to the office will evolve over time, so you need to be aware of that and ensure your office is up to date. However, by creating a space where your staff want to work from, you have taken an essential first step in preparing your workspace for the future. To learn more, read How to Create a Workspace Worth the Commute.

 

The Purpose of Your Office

One of the biggest changes in workspace over the last few years has been the end of the office as the only working location. No longer is the office the only place to work - remote, hybrid, and third space working are all viable options. As a result, you need to define why you even have an office - what role does it serve for you? The answer will be different for everyone, but there are 3 key benefits of office working that apply to every company.

 

Collaboration

The first key benefit of in-office working is the improvements in collaboration. Collaboration is about much more than staff sharing information, which can be done remotely. Collaboration involves working with other people to create something of value.

 

Collaboration is much easier and more effective in person. Research has shown that in office workers spend 52% of their time collaborating. Full time remote workers, meanwhile, spend about half of their time on teamwork (27%). Over time, this decreases productivity and engagement.

 

However, having your people in the office doesn’t guarantee successful collaboration. You need to design your space to encourage it, with informal flexible collaboration stations designed specifically for collaboration. We recommend 35-50% of your office footprint is devoted to collaboration.

 

There's no doubt that collaboration is essential to the future of work. To learn exactly how to improve collaboration at your company, read 5 Ways to Improve Collaboration with Office Design.

 

Culture

For many companies, an improved culture is another key benefit of the office. Culture is a crucial component of company performance. Companies with a strong culture see a 400% increase in revenue growth compared to companies with a weak culture. Culture is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact. It is much easier to maintain & improve culture when your staff are in the office.

 

You may be able to maintain culture with existing teams, but as your workforce churns over time, integrating new staff is very difficult if they never meet their colleagues in person - so much context and information will be missed.

 

Simply having your people in a shared office the majority of the time will be very beneficial for your culture. However, there are also several steps you can take in your office design to encourage culture. Primarily, you need to create an office that is tailored to your culture - a space that looks and feels like your company. To learn more about that, read this article. Culture is of timeless importance, and if your workspace is going to be ready for the future, culture needs to be a key consideration.

 

Productivity

Given that the office is no longer the only option, it has to justify it's existence. The crucial consideration for your workspace is how it will support and improve the productivity and performance of your people - both now and in the future.

 

There are two key ways in which your office can support the productivity of your people. The first is by meeting their physical needs. This includes providing ergonomic furniture, suitable technology, and good air quality. These are all things which they may not have access to when working remotely. The second is that by having your people together, they can communicate much easier and will be more engaged with their teams. This will lead to further productivity improvements.

 

Productivity is the bedrock of every workspace. For your workspace to be prepared for the future, you need to ensure that is both protecting and improving the performance of your people. To learn more, read How to Maximise Staff Productivity with Office Design.

 

From Cost Centre to Strategic Asset


The biggest shift to prepare your company for the future of workspace is a perception shift. No longer can you afford to look at real estate as a cost centre - an expensive necessity, somewhere for your staff to work. Instead, you need to look at it as a strategic asset - a tool to help get your company where you want to go.

 

Your workspace plays a role in the strategic future of your business by giving your people a space that matches and enhances the way they work. A space that builds culture and helps your people collaborate.

 

Your workspace strategy needs to align with your company strategy - how can your workspace(s) help your company achieve its goals? What risks does it pose that could hinder the achievement of those goals? There's no one path to prepare your office for the future of workspace. However, by ensuring it’s aligned with your company strategy, you are helping create the right office of the future for your company.

 

Creating the Future of Your Office

Now that you know about the most important factors shaping the future of your office, you are ready to prepare your office for your future. The future of the office is different for every company, so you need to ensure your office is ready and able to support your people and company long into the future.

 

To learn more about preparing your workspace for the future, read 5 Factors to Future Proof Your Workspace Strategy. You'll learn about 5 of the most important things you need to create a future-proof workspace strategy. You’ll be able to create a workspace strategy that’s right for you now and ready for your future.

 

If your first step is getting your people back to the office, then you'll want to download 10 Steps to Return to the Office. Inside, we'll walk you through the process we use to help our clients get their staff back the the office.  This will cover everything, from deciding if you should return and why, all the way through the different stages of planning and implementation. Download it here.

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