In their latest forecast, Gensler explores over 200 trends impacting design on a global scale under the headings of Work, Lifestyle and Cities.
Interestingly, looking specifically at ‘Work’, we discovered that many of the key findings mirror the conclusions of our own research report Rethinking Workplace: Part I. Here we explore the main parallels.
Engaging employees through experience
“Engaged employees are core to your business”, states The Gensler Research Institute, “yet only 32% of employees around the world report that they are engaged at work.”
This is a clear issue, and one which was also highlighted in Rethinking Workplace: Part I, where 45% of the surveyed population admitted feeling unfulfilled in their work, and almost a quarter saying they were uncertain about their job.
Gensler believes that organisations need to look beyond physical space to build a culture and provide opportunities for personal growth – something we also found to be true. The office workers we surveyed perceived ‘perks’, such as flexible working hours and ‘duvet days’, and progression as a positive motivator, with over half calling for more businesses to offer them.
In support of this, Ankita Dwivedi highlights the importance of experiencing fulfillment in our work. “In workplace, creating a sense of purpose has been proven to be paramount to employee health, happiness, wellbeing and, in turn, productivity. In truth, purpose is no less a human appetite than air, water or food.”
“Experience will be the reason people come to the office”
The Gensler Experience Index cites that while nearly 80% of executives rate employee experience as very important, only 22% reported their own companies as excellent at delivering a differentiated experience.
“To engage talent, the workplace must prioritise experience – it’s no longer just an option”, adds Ankita.
The rise of the individual
With people increasingly living integrated lives, with very few boundaries between home and work – a concept we refer to as worklife – purpose and connection are now more important than ever.
In fact, we found that over half of Europe’s office workers view this as a positive, which seems it is a trend that will continue to evolve over time.
In the age of the individual, people feel their unique wants and needs should be taken into account and considered. And while this is no mean feat, businesses need to find ways to cater for all of their employees and offering flexibility means people can go about their lives in a way that fulfills their needs.
And, by making sure that work and life are more in sync, employees are more likely to feel their wellbeing is a priority, and in turn, feel more engaged and productive. In short, benefitting everyone.
Configuring for the future
In order to “meet the needs of a changing workplace ecology”, Gensler also outlines flexibility as the main focus area, however focusing more on the demands on the physical space driven by the needs of different working styles and modes.
“Space planning solutions should allow organisations and individuals to create environments for both concentrated work and cross-functional collaboration.”
For businesses looking to respond to this in an office environment, Gensler highlights ‘enhancements’ and ‘configurability’, alongside ‘flexibility’, as being key.
Enhancements to existing furniture, such as height-adjustable work surfaces and the addition of privacy screens, can allow for quick and simple personalisation of workstations, which can respond to the needs of the existing workforce, and also, on a wider scale, the organisation.
Overcoming ‘invisible’ issues
Gensler states that as more workspaces adopt open plan – and we found that for nearly two fifths of the European workforce, this is the most popular set up – businesses need to provide areas suitable for [both collaboration and heads-down work.] Noise & open plan: Productivity’s friend or foe?
This is echoed in our research where the European workforce highlighted noise as the main issue in their current office (27%); one that needs careful consideration and planning to get right when lots of colleagues are working in one space.
Gensler argues that the solution is for designers to procure products that ‘work harder’ to mitigate noise in the open office to offer individuals respite when needed – particularly those that prefer to work independently.
Finding the sweet spot between culture, technology and the physical workplace is paramount; people come to work for the experience.
There are some clear patterns emerging from these two studies highlighting key areas where workplace improvements are needed to best serve those using the space - and by extension the businesses occupying them:
- The office is still important, but it must serve the needs of its entire workforce.
- Noise is an issue for workers on a global scale as open plan offices become more prevalent. Therefore, businesses must ensure they invest in office design that caters for all and includes quieter areas for concentration and spaces for collaboration.
- Businesses must engage their employees in both the spaces they offer and the culture they instill.
But, above all else, employees are increasingly seeking greater ‘flex’, for a more seamless worklife.
The businesses that respond successfully to the needs highlighted by their workforce, can expect to reap the rewards. From enhanced productivity to, ultimately, a healthier, happier workforce.
To discover the full findings of The Gensler Design Forecast, visit: https://www.gensler.com/design-forecast-introduction.
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