5 KEY TAKEAWAYS | Where to From Here? The Future of Work and What it Means for the Built Environment
There has been a direct shift in the way we work given the events over the last 18 months. A need for flexibility and agility has become increasingly important, with the landscape in how professionals work currently moving through a demanding transformation journey.
Our esteemed panel of experts spoke about how the seismic events of the past months will impact how people work in the future and what that, in turn, means for the diverse industries that make up the Built Environment sector. If you missed the live session or would simply like a recap, here are the key insights that came out of the session from our virtual 2021 Be Summit.
1. The value of office space
With a large majority of Australia’s office staff having worked from home, to some degree, over the past 18 months, it brings up the question, what is the value of office space?
Brian Froud, Director of Consulting at JLL, explained that we will see the value proposition of the office change, with a stronger focus of employees using offices as social spaces, more to collaborate with colleagues. Froud also went on to say that working from home has allowed employees to personalise their workspace to meet their needs – which we could see to impact out future spaces, a hyper-personalisation of the office space.
Laurie Aznavoorian, Strategy and Research Lead at Bates Smart, also touched on the idea of corporations offering a certain level of personlisation for employees “corporations needs more resiliency…we’ll see much more spaces manipulated easily by their users.”
Caroline Boyce, Senior Workplace Strategy Consultant at Lendlease added that a “…utopia would be some days not needing to open the laptop when going into the office’ which builds upon this idea of using workspaces as collaboration hubs rather than for just individual working. She went on to explain that workplaces will really need to move into an area centered around experience which will need to apply to all the different modes of working to help people really live their best lives when coming into the workplace.
“This is our time to really breakaway differently…” said Boyce
2. Community is key
The idea of community, which has been a struggle for many whilst working from home, kept cropping up in the panel discussion. Aznavoorian said that “…as human being we’re social animals…community is really what bring us together.” Important factors contributing towards this include mental health, a quest for purpose and meaning and flexibility.
To support this idea of community, Aznavoorian also spoke around the idea that public and private spaces are really starting to blur together, and when cleverly designed they can be used for more social good, rather than solely just a workspace.
Using workspace for community goes back to co-working spaces, which before the pandemic were growing increasingly popular with start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Boyce said that “…we’re seeing lots of career pivots…and people thinking a bit differently” with even more start-ups beginning to appear, this poses the question of how do we get these people to join the corporate spaces? Boyce goes on to explain that it’s all about blending communities and spaces. Some organisations may have spaces to lease and what better way then to embrace moving start-ups into these workplaces. By bringing different work communities together, there can be a diverse blend of ideas and thinking, which can be a good progression for a workplace.
3. All about individual needs
As working from home looks very different amongst employees, the future of hybrid work won’t be a ‘one shoe fits all’ solution. Mark Lovegrove , People Advisory Services Partner from EY Asia-Pacific Markets, says that the future of hypbrid working will be ‘very dependent on the company…”. From his company research it was found that 9 out of 10 employees want some form of flexible working going forward.
Lovegrove pointed out that is key to note that hybrid working is not ‘lockdown working‘, and most employees are not expecting a ‘lockdown’ level of working from home. It will come back down to the individual and the employer and what works for both in unison. Lovegrove stated that 54% of their survey respondents feel so strongly about flexibility in the workplace that they would consider leaving a job if not offered it.
“It does need to be nuanced…employees do want some form of flexibility.”
Whether it is the ability to self-manage their work hours, where they work or who they work with, it seems that corporations will need to offer some form flexibility to their workforce if they are to retain talent in the future.
4. Wellbeing in the workspace
It has previously been said that ‘Tomorrow’s office will leave you feeling more fulfilled than when you arrived.” Building on this within the session, Froud said that he has seen wellbeing rise as the third most important factor of a workplace. Which after a tumultuous past 18 months this is not too surprising of the country’s workforce. Froud added that a huge 8 of 10 people say their offices where not promoting wellbeing, and that flexibility is now seen as more important to some than their salary.
“We use the idea of place to describe who we are…places are intrinsically linked to identity” explained Aznavoorian, and that company culture is now not just focused around our desks. If our workspace really does link so closely to our identity, then corporations will need to take a deeper look at what they are doing to associate their spaces with healthy wellbeing, spaces where employees leave with a feeling of purpose and meaning.
“Engagement is what culture is all about…it kind of happens in your head” says Aznavoorian.
5. The impact on productivity
Whilst we have generally heard that employees feel like they have been more productive working from home, this stance has become subjective over the course of Australia’s multiple lockdowns.
Froud commented that many factors can have contribute to losing our productivity, “Productivity can be quite subjective…we’ve seen there is a level of resilience to adapt to hybrid working”.
It does appear that the longer the lockdowns go on for will contribute to fatigue happening quicker. Froud added that research results indicated “a quarter of employees will give commute time back to their employer” demonstrating that although we know that most employees want a level flexibility, many are still willing to give their time towards commuting into the office.
Impact on productivity will really be how corporate leaders drive their workforce in this ‘new normal’, how days are broken down and also on the enjoyment of work rather than focused solely on employee utilisation.
Watch the full discussion below!
- Matt Lovegrove | People Advisory Services Partner | EY Asia-Pacific Markets and BD Leader
- Laurie Aznavoorian | Strategy and Research Lead | Bates Smart
- Bryan Froud | Director, Consulting | JLL
- Caroline Boyce | Senior Workplace Strategy Consultant | Lendlease