According to CBRE world-wide office space pricing is at a seven year high and with 50% of the earth’s population living in cities there is a greater need to get more efficient in the way we occupy commercial space.
The way we work is having to become a lot more flexible with those of us working doing so for longer hours and as such the requirements and demands of such employees is becoming more demanding requiring improved working environments.
Employers in recent times have had to give much greater thought to the type and quality of the space they occupy and in a similar vein to how retailers ensures the right customer experience within their stores the users of commercial office space are having to focus more on what their employee expect from their work space. To attract and retain the key employees companies have to ensure the work environment offered accords with their staff needs. Employees are not necessarily working 9-5 and therefore looking to workplaces that make their lives easier by the provision and access to childcare facilities, gyms etc.
The one space fits all strategy no longer applies and companies are now recognising the “value add” provided by workplace strategy consultant and interior designers in creating flexible workplace environments that helps to attract quality staff, ensure employee retention and improve productivity. So what are we seeing:-
Whilst the migration from private offices to the large open plan savannas of densely benched workspace continues it is generally recognised such environments can be noisy, impersonal and lacking privacy. With advent of the socially minded millennial generation we are now seeing a mix of collaborative work and open plan space which is much more flexible in its design and less formal.
Changes to traditional style
The traditional style of office still prevails being carpeted and with suspended ceilings and lighting. In an endeavour to break away from the formality of traditional office design and create more informal casual spaces we are seeing a greater preponderance of office floors designed with polished concrete floors or floor covering produced from recycled material, exposed ceiling surfaces and lighting (no suspended ceiling), roller blinds.
Continuing this line of informality the front of house reception is often forsaken and incorporated within a staff breakout or communal area. Introducing less formal styles of furnishings and fittings is also being seen to create a more relaxed environment such as sofas and soft furnishings.
Maintaining a connection with the external environment is another theme that millennial employees wish to see with vertical wall of plants, natural light where possible and environmentally friendly services such energy efficient lighting, light and air-conditioning sensors, waterless toilets etc.
End of trip facilities
The majority A and Premium grade buildings now days will have five star hotel standard amenities including end of trip facilities that will contain changing rooms, showers, lockers, bike racks, gym etc The building owner will also provide concierge services from booking tickets for shows and theatre, organising dry cleaning and lunches.
Co-working space is a growing phenomena that is responding to the changing work practices and needs. Co-working is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those co-working are usually not employed by the same organisation. The space provided is flexible, and informal There are a number of companies such as Hub Melbourne, WeWork and Breather providing such space. WeWork state their “Workspace design features private offices (for teams of 1–100+) with glass walls to maintain privacy without sacrificing transparency or natural light. Common spaces have a distinct aesthetic and vibe that will inspire your team, as well as the guests you bring into our buildings”.
Breather yet to establish in Australia offers something different. An environment as they state “that isn’t your home, office or a coffee shop, where you can really be productive. A Breather space helps you punctuate your work life, allowing you to meet, work and focus without distraction.” In their model the space is offered on an hourly rate and can be simply booked online as and when required.
Many of Melbourne’s institutional property owners such as Investa, GPT and Dexus provide such space within their own office buildings and many tenants are attracted to such buildings take advantage of such space in using conference and meeting facilities, and thereby reducing space required that they need to lease directly from the building owner.
With the advances in technology and software there will be less requirement for in built technology within existing office space. As the mobile phone becomes more and more powerful the requirements for data and telecoms, computers will diminish. Changes in the workplace and how work is done with software improvements and innovations will revolutionise the requirement for office space.
Office design now prioritises its layout to support the technology requirements. Smart building technology is also starting to play a role with automated systems and security. And perhaps not surprisingly, most desks now have USB charging ports.
Millennials, as a community-oriented generation, tend to be connected at all times—be it on their computer, on their phone, or even on their watch. For a majority of young people, being completely disconnected for an undefined period of time is terrifying—and it’s not just disconnection from the internet, but disconnection from their peers.
Given that Millennials now make up a majority of the workforce, it’s not surprising that online communication tools have reached new heights. Project management software like Asana and Crocagile are dedicated to rethinking email. “Social media” is now not just a household word, but an essential networking phenomenon.
One of the biggest innovations in business chat is Slack—so much so that a reviewer from The New York Times gleefully wrote: “Slack has a few unusual features that make it perfectly suited for work, including automatic archiving of all your interactions, a good search engine and the ability to work across just about every device you use. Because it is hosted online and is extremely customizable, Slack is also easy for corporate technology departments to set up and maintain.”
These features have helped turn Slack into one of the fastest-growing business applications in history. After only a year in operation, Slack now serves about half a million workers every day as a partial replacement for email, instant messaging and face-to-face meetings. Its base of users is doubling every three months.
A recent report from US software giant Citrix forecast that by 2017, some 50% of businesses would have a mobile working policy, and by 2020, 70% of people would work away from the office as often as they worked at a desk.
“Offices are expensive and office space will decline,” says Citrix vice president Jacqueline de Rojas. This is partly due to bosses realising not all jobs need to be done from an office, but also because employees are increasingly demanding a better work-life balance, she adds. Words like mobility, flexibility and fun are all words that will need to be interwoven into the ongoing design of future workspace to enable companies to secure the best staff and grow their businesses.