Many companies experiment with different workplace configurations. These organisations spend a lot of time and money to build ‘the office of the future’. But most are based on theories and strategies that might have had some success at other companies, not on their own empirical evidence.
“This is exactly where I think a lot is still to gain in ‘workplace improvement’. The office of the future is not an office with just a fancy hallway monitor or an office with just great multi-functional furniture and a ping pong table.”
Aim for the improved workplace
To be honest I don’t believe that ‘the office of the future’ is a very good ambition to strive for. But this is probably because when I grew up, the year 2020 definitely was the future. And today we’re in 2020, and do I feel like I am living in the future? No, not really. But, have workplaces become better? It might depend on who you‘re asking. I definitely see that workplaces have become better in general. There still are some very bad offices and layouts that simply made people feel very bad in, and due to, the workplace. But there are far more improved workplaces now than offices that stayed the same and haven’t got any better.
But how to get there, and what actually is an ‘improved workplace’? Because isn’t this what we are all after when we start up our workplace initiatives; to take the current situation and turn it into a better situation? Because better is good. Better offices are built and designed to fit like a tailor-made suit for the company and all the individuals that make up that company. It understands what type of people are using it and for what purpose they are using it. A lot of time and energy is going into understanding how the workplace is used and experienced, in order to make adjustments that lead to an improved workplace, a better workplace. Because better is good. Better for someone could be reduced real estate costs. Or it could be, attracting the best people easier and retaining them longer. For others, better could be to enable people to do their work more effectively.
Improving for better
Every reason to find ways to improve your workplace, how big or small the improvement, is a good reason. Because better is good. And the situation just got better for at least someone. It is, however, great to notice that workplace strategy teams are defining their ambitions broader and aiming to gain for everyone instead of just the Real Estate team or the HR team for example. I have definitely noticed a focus more towards understanding what makes teams perform at their best and what it is that they need from the workplace to support them. Understanding the behaviour of their occupants and the way they interact with the workplace.
Finding the sweet spot in which workplace efficiency meets workplace effectiveness and occupants’ well-being is the common denominator in Workplace Strategy programs I see being developed. These programs, now more than ever, hold a very ‘human-centred’ approach. I feel fortunate that I can contribute to better-performing workplaces and enable our customers to develop and manage these ‘human-centred’ workplaces and workplace strategy programs. With a unique combination of data collection methodologies, we are able to provide a unique combination of insights to enable our customers to make evidence-based decisions on ways to make better workplaces. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.