4 Trends in Workplace Design countering changes in Workforce Behavior



Recently, online design magazine Dezeen covered an article highlighting how companies in Australia are increasingly re-thinking workplace design in order to attract the best talent (Dezeen 11/2015). From investments firms to IT companies, workplace design is becoming a priority in order to attract talent from around the world, which is leading to increasing competition among firms. With changing demands and the decline of highly talented and experienced staff (HOK, 2015), there are multiple factors that have effected workplace design, with the decline in top-level experienced staff being just one. We have a look at some of the leading trends in workplace design that are meeting the challenges from changes in workforce behavior, recruitment patterns to management and more.

Decline in highly skilled and experienced talent

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iSelect, Australia – Image Credit: Yvonne Qumi

According to research by Isilay Civan, a senior research & strategic innovation specialist at leading global firm HOK, the need for creating an innovative and attractive workplace is due to the need to now attract and retain the best talent. She claims that between 2010 and 2020, “the labor force is expected to grow only 0.7” in the United States and that by approaching the design of the workplace with ingenuity is a tactic that is working. Examples of companies who have taken this and implemented it in offices all around the work include the likes of Red Bull, Unilever, Airbnb and PWC, to name a few.

Need for a healthier workplace environment

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Sergey Makhno Architects, Kiev – Image Credit: Andrey Avdeenko

The importance of workplace satisfaction has over the years been based highly on the management of workplace health, a reason we have seen the abolition of cubicles and a move to ‘cool’ open plan spaces. A report by the UCL Institute of Health Equality outlines that alongside psychological improvements, by presenting due reward for effort, staff can be kept happy and satisfied. By offering rewards such as away-days, a complimentary canteen or café, weekly massages or haircuts and the ever increasing need for a ‘green-wall’ are just some of the ways to boost morale. Other studies have shown that one of the most successful methods to boost workforce morale is by introducing an office pet.

Rise of remote working with advances in technology

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WeWork Coworking offices, London – Image Credit: Oktra

During the Global Leadership Summit 2014, a study carried out on business leaders showed that they would be highly likely to implement a 50% remote based workforce. With advanced in connectivity and ‘cloud’ services allowing staff to stay connected with a central data network, working remotely has become a lot simpler. Automatic, the company behind the highly successful WordPress platform and all associated websites and has become highly popular for having a nearly 100% remote workforce. According to founder Matt Mulligen, having a remote workforce “helps the company win the talent wars because it’s not just recruiting in tech hubs like the Valley or New York”. With effective technological systems, staff can remain connected and in touch with the whole team from their desk at home, in a café or at a client project, anywhere in the world.

Increase in informal and flexible activity-based working

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Unilever, Lima – Image Credit: Luis Arce

As well as remote working, within the workplace, staff are getting away from the desk and therefore require a more active space. In his study on ‘Rethinking Knowledge Work: A Strategic Approach’, Thomas Davenport suggests that these spaces or ‘activity settings’ are vital for accommodating more interactive and collaborative practices. The answer to this is the creation of breakout spaces, large informal working areas with more softer seating and interesting features like interactive presentation walls, black/white boards and modular seating and sofas. By creating these spaces, companies are allowing teams to enhance workforce collaboration and presenting a positive flow of interaction between team members and leaders.