Looking ahead in 2019 here are 4 key Workplace trends that are shaping real estate office spaces from niche or early adopters to mainstream norms, where the wider drive are changes in the way work itself is done.
The world of work is changing at a rapid rate. Apps such as Slack, Github and other collaboration tools make working and communicating in an asynchronous manner within or in between teams seamless. But it’s not just the online tooling that is rapidly evolving, the nature of how the physical office is designed and managed is also leaning on technology.
1. Flexibility - Lease what you need
The growth of the flexible workplace market is starting to impact the traditional leasing market with 21% of office space across Central London occupied by flexible workplace providers according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Lower costs to take up space in flexible workspaces than renegotiate lease agreements coupled with the rise of ‘job casualisation’ are changing the demand for traditional office space.
Why Activity Based Working matters
Activity based working is becoming table stakes in being a good employer where employees have a wide choice of remote working options. The Stoddart Review cited that agility is no longer a luxury but is important to stay competitive and evolve as the workforce changes, with alignment between workplace and purpose a key tool to managing agility.
“Our studies show that the most successful work environments provide a range of spaces - an ecosystem that allow people to choose where and how they get their job done”. Harvard business review article
Connectivity in buildings is also a key factor influencing flexibility concepts. Technology is needed to make occupants healthier and productive with 92% of occupants stating internet connectivity is an important factor when selecting workspace in the next 10 years according to the Radius Global Market Research study.
2. Data Driven Design
Data gathering and understanding the flow of people in and out of office spaces will enable building owners to design workspaces that are fit for purpose, optimise utilisation, drive value and reduce operational costs.
Take for example, analysing peak and low periods can help businesses adjust and automate energy usage, switching off lighting and heating during low periods and powering up during busier hours.
Creating data driven workplace designs goes beyond just designs. It starts with developing a data driven culture within the organisation, a collection of environmental data in line with actual occupancy data for a holistic view of space utilisation.
“Data from outside the buildings domain can also be of value to building owners and managers, by integrating buildings into a wider network of sensors and data sources that make up the IoT, new and more dynamic building solutions can be created by integrating external data sources to predict the usage profile for a buildings spaces and systems.” Memoori 2018
More and more organisations across the globe are turning to wireless sensor technology to gather data in order to better facilitate space utilisation and environmental conditions in the quest to design ‘greener’ and sustainable workplace strategies.
3. Improving occupant wellbeing and employee experience
Recent studies have demonstrated a direct link between workspace designs and occupant wellbeing where productivity is higher in environments that facilitate collaboration, interaction, knowledge sharing and flexible working.
By giving employees options to find the most appropriate setting to match the task they are performing improves productivity as well as increased satisfaction in the workplace. It also fosters creative thinking and innovation through knowledge sharing from informal settings.
Employee wellbeing is a key driver
Employee costs including benefits and salary make up 90% of operating costs for UK businesses according to the World Green Building Council report. Employee wellbeing and happiness is fast becoming a key driver in workplace strategies and building redesigns.
The Stoddart Review found that happy workers' productivity increases by 12% than unhappy workers (10% decrease in productivity), with 55% citing their workspace environment enables them to be more productive.
Duncan Weldon, Economist and former BBC Newsnight Economics Correspondent stated that even with a 1% increase in the UK’s productivity will add £20bn to the UK economy.
Adding significant value
Hence, small step changes to improve employee well being can add significant value:
- Attracting the best talent
- Reduce employee turnover
- Lower absenteeism
- Improve output levels and performance
These drivers will influence future investments towards data driven building designs, opening more opportunities between business functions such as HR, Facilities and Corporate Real Estate teams to work together holistically to understand how workplace conditions can improve employee productivity.
4. Creating sustainable buildings
Creating sustainable buildings is much more than just the impact to the environment. It is the combination of good building designs, good technology to facilitate activity based working coupled with good behaviour of occupants.
Both physical and physiological factors play a role in achieving higher satisfaction scores in quality of the workplace. Occupants are also likely to be more forgiving and acceptable to change that lead to a ‘greener’ footprint.
There is a correlation between environmental conditions and the impact on employee well being. For example, lower CO2 emissions, better air ventilation or workspaces with natural light can improve productivity levels.
An analysis by Carnegie Mellon concluded natural ventilation or mixed mode conditions could achieve the following benefits with an average ROI of up to 120%.
- Up to 1.3% in heath costs savings
- Up to 18% productivity gains
- Up to 79% HVAC energy savings
The office environment can be segmented into a number of components as listed below and measured against the outcomes of occupant health, wellbeing and perception as well as organisational gains.
- Indoor air quality and ventilation
- Thermal comfort
- Lighting and daylighting
- Noise level
- Interior layout
- Biophilia and views
- Look and feel
- Location and access to amenities
- Flexibility - Agility is important to stay competitive and evolve as the workforce changes.
- Data Driven Designs - Starts with developing a data driven culture, a collection of environmental data in line with actual occupancy data for a holistic view of space utilisation.
- Improving occupant wellbeing and employee experience - Giving employees options to find the most appropriate setting to match the task they are performing, improves productivity as well as increased satisfaction in the workplace.
- Creating Sustainable Buildings - A balance between good buildings, good technology and good occupant behaviour.