The Rise of The Inclusive Workplace

With vast advancements in terms of inclusivity, the workplace as we know it has evolved. Organisations are facing new challenges to ensure that their offices offer choice, flexibility and practicality while ensuring that no demographic is overlooked

Research carried out by a 2019 Benefits and Trends survey found that workers now desire an inclusive workspace over social events, gym membership and private healthcare. This demonstrates a mass shift in the design and culture of the modern workplace, as well as a significant turning point in public opinion and employee expectation of a workspace.

However, this phenomenon goes beyond a simple tick box. Newly introduced legal policies actively encourage companies to recruit under-represented workers that have frequently been overlooked, despite their qualifications and experience meeting the required eligibility.

Discrimination relating to age, gender or race is no longer tolerated, though this far surpasses equality practices alone. Organisations now hold a corporate responsibility to address the needs of their workforce and ensure that employee-wellbeing is a prioritised discipline.

Of course, this is not to say that the office should be intricately designed to meet the wants of everyone. This would be both an immense and costly task. It is to say, however, that the needs of users should be reflected in the overall design of their utilised space. For example, corridors should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchair users; multi-height surfaces, adjustable chairs and tables alongside ramps and lifts should be suitably available where necessary.

Workers can be actively encouraged to freely discuss any issues that they may be facing with an in-house counsellor, wellbeing practitioner or fellow colleague. Overall, an inclusive office is considerate of a wide range of different characteristics and personalities that range from introvert through to extrovert.

There are tremendous benefits involved in creating an inclusive workplace, particularly when considering that the correlation between employee satisfaction and engagement is a well-established fact. Flexible working arrangements that cater to all have a profound and positive impact on users, thus maximising productivity and vastly reducing stress levels. In turn, employees are more likely to remain loyal to inclusive employers.

Agile furniture is becoming more popular by the day, with many companies eliminating ‘set’ desks and encouraging more fluidity within the office space. Naturally, this should not eliminate those that choose to remain in a fixed position for reasons such as disability or old-age, but it is wise to consider the benefits that come with introducing greater flexibility.

Though open-plan offices have proven to be a leading cause of work-related stress and illness, when intelligently designed they can be used to your advantage. With agile furniture, smaller zoned areas can be designated accordingly and used to create spaces that focus on collaboration, teamwork, meetings and training. Private booths for 1-2 users are also a wonderful solution for organisations that focus on the wellbeing of their staff; utilised for focussed work while eliminating highly distracting background noise.

Recent research demonstrates that individuals suffering from neurological issues such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia (to name but a few), can be particularly sensitive to noisy areas. Noise can trigger anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness. This applies to 1 in 10 full-time office workers. Additional factors such as intelligently selected wall colours, the use of natural light and biophilic design can help to reduce this associated anxiety?

With hybrid working now fairly mainstream, offices are taking further steps to accommodate both home and office-based workers while maintaining the essential employee interaction.

The Zenconnect Office pod provides the perfect inclusive solution for workers both in and out of the office. Seating up to 6 people, office-based staff can communicate freely with home-based workers using plug-and-play technology. Using cutting-edge technology, the pod is designed to make every user feel included to replicate a real-life meeting.

Integrated conferencing audio makes communication seamless and straightforward, and in-built soundproofing ensures that external sound is eliminated. This is an ideal solution for supporting the wellbeing of remote staff whilst retaining the benefits of social interaction that may be missed by many.

The layout of your office is more important than ever before, and as specialists in occupied & fast-track office fit out, Zentura can guide you through every stage. Our turnkey services include workplace strategy and consultation, interior design, office fit out & refurbishment and furniture consultation. As experts within the field, we advise how you can make the most of your office to create agile spaces with less desking and more inclusive collaboration & quiet zones.

Your workspace should be practical and comfortable for all users while ensuring that no individual is alienated by its design. The office of tomorrow ensures that your organisation and workspace is attractive to new talent and fully able to retain existing staff. It is about placing you as an organisation that goes beyond the benchmark.

If you would like to discuss options for an inclusive fit out with one of our workspace consultants, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!