Future Proofing Your Office
Amidst all the rapid change in today’s world, it's clear that the workplace of the future will look very different from today. It's essential that your office design can adapt to these changes. But with so much change and uncertainty, how can you reasonably predict your future workspace needs?
The answer lies in future-proofing your workspace. This will put your company in the best possible position to adapt to the changing needs of your workforce. But with so many competing trends, how can you identify the most important and enduring ones? And with so much uncertainty, how can you possibly give yourself enough room to adapt? Future-proofing your workspace involves identifying key trends that are here to stay, as well as areas of uncertainty and likely change.
At Zentura, we’ve been assisting companies across the UK with their workspace strategy and design for 15 years. In that time, we’ve seen multiple transitions in the role of the office, from desk farm to open plan to collaboration hub. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most important trends as well as how you can best position yourself for the future of the workplace.
Flexibility is the most important part of creating a future-proof office design. No matter how much preparation and forecasting you do, you will still face a high degree of uncertainty about your workspace needs 5 or 10 years from now. The best way to prepare for this is by creating an adaptable space that can be easily reconfigured to suit the changing needs of your people.
By using modular and zoning furniture, you can minimise the build-out required in your office design. As a result, it will be much cheaper and easier to reconfigure your office when your needs change. You won't have to strip out and rebuild walls and reconfigure utilities. Instead, you can simply move or change the furniture.
Technology is playing an ever-larger role in our lives, and this is no different in the workspace. When implemented well, workspace technology can significantly improve the performance of your people. However, it’s essential that you only implement technology that reflects and enhances the way your people work. Many technologies can detract from performance, so you need to avoid them.
To make your people more productive, there are two essential types of technology to consider. The first is hybrid collaboration technology, such as smart screens and video bars. These will make it much easier to collaborate with colleagues and partners in remote locations.
The other type is smart building technology, which works in the background to make your people more productive. Automated lighting and temperature control will increase comfort and focus. Activity sensors will track what spaces are used and when. This allows you to assess the most popular areas of your office, and how that changes. This will enable you to see how your workspace needs are changing, allowing you to adapt your office to suit.
Collaboration is key in today's workplace, and it's only going to become more important in the future. Over the last 3 years, the role of the office has transitioned from a working hub to a collaboration hub. With hybrid working, people can complete focussed tasks from home with fewer distractions. The role of the office has switched to facilitating teamwork.
To maximise collaboration in your future office, you need to provide a variety of collaboration spaces. Collaboration mostly happens informally in small teams, so spaces that encourage this are crucial. You need to provide a variety of different spaces to facilitate the way your people now use the office.
The wellbeing of employees has never been more important. To ensure your office serves you well in the future, it's essential that your office design reflects this. Improved worker wellbeing leads to reduced absence and improved productivity. As a result, your people are far better placed to help your company adapt to the challenges of the future.
The best way to improve the wellbeing of your staff in your future office is by maximising the biophilia in your new office design. A recent study found 78% of employees say access to natural light and views improves their wellbeing, and 70% report improved work performance. To learn more, read 9 ways to improve workplace wellbeing with office design.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. With this trend only set to continue, it's essential that your office design maximises sustainable design. Without it, you risk damaging your brand for both potential clients and recruits alike. This will limit the growth of your business and your future success.
Incorporating sustainable materials, such as reclaimed wood is important. Installing more energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning will also improve your carbon footprint. However, the most important thing you can do to improve the sustainability of your workspace is to plan it into your strategy. By creating a future-proof workspace, you will have to relocate your office less often. this will have the biggest impact on your company’s environmental impact.
Many of the previous factors have focussed on the future-readiness of your workspace strategy. However, considering your overall company strategy is also important. If you don’t factor your company’s aggressive growth plans into your workspace strategy, you may outgrow your existing workspace.
You need to ensure your workspace strategy is aligned with your overall company strategy. To do this, speak with your company leadership to get a detailed understanding of their plans for the future. You should also discuss how the workspace strategy can support them. It may be through allowing for growth, moving to a different location, or evolving your brand. By ensuring these two strategies are aligned, you will ensure your workspace strategy is not conflicting with the overall strategy.
Making Your Office Design Suitable for Your Future
Future-proofing your office design is essential to maximising your real estate ROI in the years to come. A future proof workspace incorporates flexibility, prioritises well-being, embraces technology, creates spaces for collaboration, and emphasises sustainability. If you do this, you'll be creating an office that's ready for the future.
To learn more about future-proofing your workspace strategy and design, read the 4 workspace strategy mistakes you’re probably making. There, we’ll explain the most common and damaging workspace strategy mistakes and how you can avoid them at your company.
Ready to discuss how you can best equip your office for the future of your company? We’d love to hear about your needs. Whether it means reducing your real estate, office relocation, office refurbishment, or moving to a hub-and-spoke model, we can help you discover and define high-performance workspaces for the future. Request a call with one of our workspace experts here.