What exactly is a dynamic workplace and how can it be realised for a post-pandemic environment? We asked employees what their past experience has been and the overriding concern is that the lack of ‘flex’ puts workers into an autopilot state of mind.

In our latest wave of research in partnership with CoreNet Global, a set of four considerations emerge that are highly relevant for architects, designers and business leaders at large. Download the report here and see what it means for your organisation.

Short for time? Here are the key insights and takeaways from our study conducted by CoreNet Global with almost 150 employees of large multinational firms headquartered in the Americas, APAC and EMEA: 

1. Too much outside-in influence

The overriding feedback from our survey sample is that workplace design decisions are being clouded by external factors that are getting in the way of the user experience. Why is this so? Well, for those on the ‘shop floor’ there’s a clear feeling that organizations are placing undue emphasis on aesthetics and efficiencies rather than occupants’ needs. In essence, too much focus on how the office looks - to
please external stakeholders - rather than how it functions for occupants.

This insight may give business leaders pause for thought - particularly those who are looking to reconfigure their premises to support a post-Pandemic workforce. Clearly a change in mindset is required so that the office is viewed less as a ‘branding tool’ and more as a dynamic environment that supports employees’ development and progress. This attitudinal change, of course, needs to start at
the top and trickle down.

We get more social connectedness and belonging from work than outside of work. And that connection is key to our happiness and wellbeing.
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, SHINE research Tweet this

2. Layouts are too locked down 

It’s apparent the restrictive layout of existing building stock wouldn’t be so bad, were it not for the fact that employees are also prohibited from adapting the space to suit their needs. Our survey points to an underlying current of distrust or a lack of employee autonomy that’s wound up in a one-size-fits-all mentality. From workers’ perspective, office layouts are simply too static and don’t support the needs of a diverse labour force.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that employees need limitless options. Clark Elliott, Senior Consultant, Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) puts forward a more pragmatic solution: “I think there is going to be a menu of choices; everyone can choose how they work and how best that is going to allow them to perform.”

3. Personalisation equals performance

Research has shown that allowing employees to optimize their own surroundings enhances wellbeing and promotes productivity. Despite this, large swathes of the working population still have very little influence over their work environment. Indeed, 1 in 5 of our survey respondents highlighted that they are not even able to open a window for fresh air.

Coupled with this, a high proportion of people are constrained by unconfigurable fixtures and fittings, which makes personalization of work stations seems a stretch. That said, just over a fifth (21%) of respondents in the survey report that more businesses are starting to consider investing in advanced building services and technologies.

Personalization of space demands an unprecedented level of design flexibility that can accommodate everything from a focused space or private meeting to a creative brainstorm or lecture.
Storeys Journal, curated by FranklinTill for Tarkett Tweet this

4. Open to ideas

The final of our four takeaways is focused on the idea that openness and transparency are needed to instill trust in employees. More specifically, the freedom to work independently and collaboratively to suit their needs.

Layouts that encourage movement, enable visibility and nurture the collision of ideas will give the office a renewed purpose. Currently, the majority of people (58%) responding to our survey spend most days at the same desk. This is mainly because they work closely with those around them - or because ‘hot desking’ isn’t an option. This is clearly a challenge for designers and specifiers to overcome, while also ensuring that privacy and thinking time are equally catered for.

Ultimately, the office needs to become a destination, rather than the default place of work that employees go to on autopilot. With a more defined purpose, the 2020s could become an exciting turning point in commercial design history: as workplaces are reborn as more human-centered hubs, in the technology age.

This is just a snapshot of the data and supporting commentary in our “Rethinking The ‘Dynamic’ Workplace” study. For a closer look at the insights and implications, download the full report here.

Leslie Thompson Director of Workplace Strategy, Tarkett Full bio and articles

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