The Evolution of the Office Workspace

January 20, 2016 / By

Office culture has dramatically evolved over the last decade.

With the need for a more innovative, creative and collaborative workforce, a working environment that supports this is now a high priority for many major firms.

Corporate awareness of how office space can promote efficiency is not new. But the post-2007 economic downturn acted as a catalyst for many white-collar businesses to review their use of space. The desire for a technology-rich environment which promotes innovation and faster decision making while incorporating cost savings became the focus.

Hot-desking as a concept has been around for decades, but the shift to Activity Based Working environments along with focus rooms, collaborative work spaces and funky fit outs has gained momentum. The potential benefits include a more flexible work environment, cost saving, improved productivity and job satisfaction.

While the workspace has taken leaps and bounds over recent years, what do we think will happen over the next 10 to 20 years? Will the workspace continue to evolve or will the pace of change plateau as it did over the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s?

Here are a few future work space trends to watch:

To increase efficiency, professional services firms will continue to reduce space per worker. This high-performance workplace will consist of a variety of settings that provide choice and balance among work modes. Remote working will continue to gain in popularity while the office will mainly be the locus of face-to-face engagement with clients and collaboration with colleagues.

Technology will continue to drive workspace change. Laptops, instant messaging and wireless connectivity have enabled a more open and mobile workforce. Technology will continue to push the possibilities of communication and mobility, while the next generation of office workers will be more adept at maximising the benefits of new communications devices.

Future-proofing will be a high priority, with greater flexibility to accommodate head-count shifts and evolving work styles cost-effectively within the same tenancy. Senior management will need to effectively plan for employee numbers to fluctuate over the lease period.

CBDs will continue to be the epicentre of business activity. However, as populations grow, suburban centres will develop into new mixed use business hubs attracting a large array of office tenants and service providers – gyms, courier services, IT support and retailers.  Premium CBD office buildings will create a vibrant and modern environment within and around the building that attracts a younger, more creative and collaborative workforce. The demographic shift of younger workers with a preference for living in the CBD and adjacent areas will reinforce this trend.

Traditionally the working environment has come second to the core motivations of a firm’s business plan. Looking ahead, technology will advance, management attitudes will continue to change as well as worker preferences and skills. Firms that embrace this shift and use it to their advantage will ultimately reap the benefits of attracting the smartest, most creative and innovative workers in the market place.

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