“The Future If,” is a global community of business leaders, authors and futurists who explore what our future can look like IF certain technologies, ideas, approaches and trends actually happen. The community looks at everything from AI and automation to leadership and management practices to augmented reality and virtual reality, the 4th industrial revolution and everything in between. Each we explore a new topic and this week we looked at whether we should Fear or Embrace AI, this was the discussion starter we used! Visit TheFutureIf.com to learn more or to request to join the community.
Cubicles, open design, work perks—there are lots of things to consider in an office space, and they all play a huge role in how employees work and the culture of a company. This week we discussed what office spaces will look like in the future and how many organizations are already taking steps to make their spaces more modern.
Right off the bat we had to dispel the thought that offices will disappear. Yes, it’s true that more people than ever are enjoying flexible work schedules and are in the office less frequently, but the need for offices will never go away.
However, office spaces are definitely changing. Remember the days of rows and rows of cubicles and gray walls? Those have been replaced by open, flexible offices. In fact, the most forward-thinking organizations now consider their offices as employee experience centers. The physical space is a representation of the company and showcases its culture and what it stands for. Head of Marketing, Corporate Solutions, EMEA Vivek Menon said that offices are the new symbols of culture, especially for purpose-drive organizations.
Offices are about more than just a place to sit. They have a huge impact on how employees and customers feel about their company. As GM – Global Business Regional Head Sundara Rajan Narayanan pointed out, today’s offices are now focused more on team work than individual work. But in order for that to be successful, employees must buy in and get involved. That can happen by offering a variety of workspaces and places for employees to chat and socialize, such as cafe areas and open common areas. Community member Marcia O’Connor shared her experience about choosing an office space that has extra features like a gym and cafe because it made her team happier. Even though the employees have a flexible schedule and might not take advantage of the space every day, just knowing that it is there tells them a lot about the company and that it cares for its employees.
Office spaces of the future might not be full of holograms and hover boards (yet), but there are a number of features community members agreed play a role in modernizing workspaces and keeping organizations moving towards the future. Open office spaces are popular now, but not every organization or employee can benefit from an open office space. Some employees prefer to work quietly, especially when they are on a deadline or discussing private customer information. Many organizations are finding success with hybrid offices that have a variety of options for work areas. The important thing to remember is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to office design and that each company should find what works best for them.
However, there is often a disconnect between what organizations want to see in their workspaces and what is actually there, as Senior Marketing Manager, Capability & Culture Vicky Sparey pointed out. Ideally, innovation and collaboration are part of the company culture, which means it would more naturally flow into the workspace. Leaders and executives need to be aware of the needs of their employees and what they want and need most in a space to be successful.
Perhaps the future of office spaces boils down to one word: adaptability. It’s not about just giving employees a desk and computer, it’s about creating a space where they feel welcome and comfortable and can do their best work. What that space looks like depends on the person, as we could see in our discussion this week, so companies must aim to make the space flexible to meet the needs of each employee.
We’re well on our way to creating workspaces of the future, and companies need to be aware of their employees to create experience centers that showcase their culture and values.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.