Workplaces are steadily changing and their awesomeness is highly getting related with output of staff members. Unless one works at an out-of-the-box company, it’s hard to find an office space that inspires workers through exciting interior design. While some might think that this is a frivolous claim, the visual environment the staff members are surrounded with can affect productivity and energy levels, writes Humphrey ODHIAMBO.
The workplace is not just where work happens. It’s how work happens. And that changes over time. Reasons of the change are numerous: a maturing (and very selective) workforce, pervasive internet access and mobile enthusiasm, an energetic (if wary) economy, newfound concern for worker wellbeing, rapid growth in the “contingent” workforce and the alarming disengagement levels1 of employees who can’t shake the feeling that we’re just not meant to spend 40 hours a week corralled in cubicles.
Fortunately, employers are largely on the same page. Companies are looking to their physical office as a strategic way to engage and attract talent, cultivate personality and stay competitive. It’s imperative in a global, digital landscape where reputation, environmental footprint, employee perks, product efficacy and corporate character all precede you.
The technology sector is leading the charge in renewed workplace design, defying long-held workplace expectations. Perimeter offices and opaque, high-walled cubicles have been replaced with open floor plans and ambient lighting.
Tech has catered to the emerging, collaborative work style and defined what the modern workplace looks like, albeit with a decidedly Californian vibe. The value of bean bag chairs is unique to a certain kind of culture, but the idea that the workplace can and should evolve to better support employees is resonating across industries.
What’s driving workplace change? Why now? Five distinct, but interrelated shifts are affecting the workplace on a grand scale. To better explain the evolution of the physical workplace, we identify the broad cultural and commercial themes that are changing the way we work—and thus how the office can deliver.
Toward a lasting investment
Reducing spend in offices is still a priority, more especially when a number of companies are less strapped for cash, they’re able to make strategic investments in the workplace. Instead of seeing real estate as a cost, top companies are looking at it as a way to deliver value.
We’re in the midst of an era of change not seen since the Industrial Revolution, ICT expert Dr. Bitange Ndemo. The internet and digitization have created a second economy, says Dr. Ndemo noting that it connects us globally and functions largely without our conscious input.
Many processes that formerly required human supervision and focus are happening automatically, intelligently and silently all the time. Our attentions are shorter, maybe; in higher demand, absolutely; but also freed from certain laborious, fixed routines.
It’s time we thought strategically about the efficacy of the physical spaces, people and processes that can’t be digitized.
The modern workforce – particularly new generations of employees—expect the flexibility to work from anywhere, be it home, the office or a coffee shop. However, all these workspaces require some reasonable sprucing to ensure that worthwhile meetings can also take place around or within such settings. For this to happen, engaging an interiors designer to actualize the space is absolutley necessary.
Among the improved items used on the move are laptops, smart phones, tablets, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and communications platforms such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, instant messaging, social networks and web conferencing. All these make work-shifting possible. We have an unprecedented ability to collaborate among employees and with external stakeholders.
Employees today are away from their desks more than ever. The population of non-self-employed teleworkers increased 103% since 2005 and 6.5% in 2014, with 80%-90% of the East African workforce indicating they would like to telework at least part time.
Not surprisingly, the cost of outfitting the modern worker with an arsenal of gadgetry and infrastructure is at an all-time high. The average IT spend per employee is significantly rising.
Large investments in technology, however, can be offset by significant space savings and reduced attrition. 95% of employers say that teleworking reduces turnover.