How will our future workplaces look| A perspective by JLL| Surfaces Reporter

Post 2019, there is a major shift in our workplace culture due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We have grown habitual to words like Working From Home, Virtual Meetings, Online discussions etc. However, as the world has started to return to normalcy, we really need to re-examine our work culture and how it will shift considering employee health and well-being while creating a sense of belonging at work. SURFACES REPORTER (SR) picked up some of the crucial aspects about how the Corporate culture will shift from the Research Agency JLL's report on  A-to Z of Workplace Design. Take a look

Turning towards Automation

Industries will increasingly automate processes and tasks. Traditional jobs will be transformed as technology reduces or optimizes manual tasks. The value of white-collar roles will remain as Automation is an essential part of enhancing productivity. The workplace will continue to be where human interaction and collaboration takes place and crystalizes. At the same time, it is in the workplace where automation will be harnessed to support the workforce in processes of various forms. Customer support, employee analytics and automated hiring processes are just some examples.\

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Effectively, this frees up time for skills that are unique to humans such as creativity and the ability to thrive from disruption and change. In workspaces, the shift translates into more “war rooms”, interactive meeting spaces or new employees’ “agoras”. 

With companies giving employees more control around how they want to do their work and when, achieving balance at work will require more than just flexible hours - it’s an inclusive, trust-based, and outcome-driven mindset that makes employees more fulfilled, loyal and more productive. 

 

Flexible working arrangements means the ‘no fixed shifts’

Fixed time and space to do our jobs is a thing of the past for most organisations. The new definition of Balance is sustained symbiosis while work and personal time are integrated amidst ever more flexible work arrangements. This situation is no longer an aspiration, but the reality for many entrepreneurs and an increasing number of corporate employees.

With companies giving employees more control around how they want to do their work and when, achieving balance at work will require more than just flexible hours - it’s an inclusive, trust-based, and outcome-driven mindset that makes employees more fulfilled, loyal and more productive. 

Designers can enable these changes from partnering with facility management or technology consultants to integrate sensors to track people flows or incorporate touchless voiceactivated devices, QR codes, biometric access systems and other systems to harmoniously complement the office design.

 

Workplace design to minimize the risk of infection

We’re learning to live with the risk of new infections in our daily interactions, while using public transportation or going out in the street. We consciously make risk exposure choices and inside the office this is the responsibility of organisations. Contact tracing at work while protecting employees’ privacy rights requires sophisticated technology.

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Technological tools and off-the-shelf infection prevention solutions are no longer an afterthought. They can be seamlessly incorporated into the workplace. Designers can enable these changes from partnering with facility management or technology consultants to integrate sensors to track people flows or incorporate touchless voiceactivated devices, QR codes, biometric access systems and other systems to harmoniously complement the office design.

Overall, the leasing negotiation is evolving above and beyond the traditional lease offer. Designers play a key role in addressing these new requirements, bringing their knowledge in designing workspaces to communal building areas.

 

Leasing approach requires quick troubleshooting

With tenants demanding more flexibility and increasing vacancy rates, landlords need to rethink their value proposition and approach to attract and retain tenants. Some continue to accelerate the diversification of amenities across currently underutilized assets to meet new tenant demands through additions in key areas such as Wellness (gyms, meditation or yoga areas), F&B (choice of healthy food options in the building), or Social (clubs, lounge and executive meeting zones) within their premises.

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Others are moving decidedly into the co-working arena, opening and operating new spaces within their premises, sometimes in the vacant spaces left by other co-working brands. Overall, the leasing negotiation is evolving above and beyond the traditional lease offer. Designers play a key role in addressing these new requirements, bringing their knowledge in designing workspaces to communal building areas.

Mixed Reality (MR) simulates an experience that blends the physical environment with the introduction of virtual elements. It brings you into the meeting room wherever you are.

 

Making virtual meetings ‘Real’

Getting together with colleagues or clients face-to-face has renewed importance in the reimagined workplace. With many still working from home or connecting from different locations, improved audio, visual and light conditions can make those outside the room feel they are truly part of the meeting. Mixed Reality (MR) simulates an experience that blends the physical environment with the introduction of virtual elements. It brings you into the meeting room wherever you are.

The pantry, canteen and breakout areas will continue to be the prime space for employee interactions, but they will also have to comply with the density, health and safety rules of each country and organisation. Smart circulation, adding design features to create buffer zones forcing no-return flows, can help address capacity issues. 

 

Carbon footprints of the building

Cutting carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency is essential to reducing our carbon footprint to deliver cleaner, more sustainable workplaces and buildings. And this trend is only expected to accelerate as more and more organisations align to the Paris Climate Agreement and make aggressive public commitments to achieve net zero carbon footprints in the coming years. 

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Dynamics of Common places

The pantry, canteen and breakout areas will continue to be the prime space for employee interactions, but they will also have to comply with the density, health and safety rules of each country and organisation. Smart circulation, adding design features to create buffer zones forcing no-return flows, can help address capacity issues. 

With the right building system in place, companies can create the touchless office as the centerpiece of their workplace design strategy. Despite ongoing controversy around the use of facial recognition to access buildings in some countries, the benefits can easily exceed the downsides with the right ethical data utilization measures taken and looking at it through the lens of health and safety. 

 

Contactless

Due to our heightened awareness of germs spreading, we have observed a shift to avoid touching surfaces or objects that are not ours. Since touching a door handle or light switch could prove to be risky, it’s necessary to overhaul these features. With the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT), not yet being materialised, and full technology integration still under way for many organizations, the progress made on the interactivity of personal devices with the work environment is now a reality. We can now avoid touching any surface other than our personal smartphones to interact with the surroundings whether it’s to book desks and meeting rooms or order lunch from the canteen. With the right building system in place, companies can create the touchless office as the centerpiece of their workplace design strategy. Despite ongoing controversy around the use of facial recognition to access buildings in some countries, the benefits can easily exceed the downsides with the right ethical data utilization measures taken and looking at it through the lens of health and safety. 

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XL Furniture and addressing densities

With offices only partially used, the current dedensification “stickers and plexiglass” measures will evolve to something more permanent and inviting. Furniture manufacturers and designers are helping create virus-free, safer offices with larger furniture that delivers lower densities. 

Text: JLL

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