The Leader Magazine

MAR 2017

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18 MARCH 2017 F E A T U R E A R T I C L E The final driver is the movement toward the office as an experience, which is a crucial deciding factor in the war for talent. Progressive companies perceive amenities and wellness as an aspect of compensation alongside salaries and benefits. An enriching environment has been demonstrated to improve 2 productivity, talent acquisition, and employee engagement. Evolution has been steep Up until about 100 years ago, during the cottage economy, most work was done by a constellation of small groups, artisans, and freelancers working together. Corporate office environments, on the other hand, are largely a product of the Industrial Revolution. Organizational structures and office designs began to mirror the assembly line, evolving into large, slow-moving, process-heavy organizations. Traditional office buildings − with their hierarchies, cubicles, and corner offices − made sense because workflows were linear. They were effective in their context. In the Information Age, with workflows in matrices, large enterprises have had difficulty adjusting to the speed at which resources need to be deployed and decisions need to be made. Unfortunately, the market isn't waiting for these types of companies to figure it out. Seventy percent 3 of companies on the Fortune 1000 list just 10 years ago have been replaced by more nimble entities. In this context, the monolithic office is obsolete. Signing a 10- or 15- year lease and relying on workplace models that have worked in the past is a great risk because both fail to account for the agility that is needed for companies to be successful. If companies and landlords allocate space based on today's needs, they are guaranteed to miss the mark in the future. When employees can work anywhere Companies that move toward smaller, more fluid working groups are capable of quickly and effectively responding to new opportunities or challenges. According to an MIT study, companies that successfully adapt agile principles grow their revenues 37 percent faster 4 than their non-agile peers. Those same flexible configurations also affect the individual. Many of us are expected to be on the clock all the time, and the kind of work we do is just as easily done outside of a traditional office. We are moving toward a paradigm that is characterized by choice and mobility as opposed to sedentary work at assigned desks. Here, also, is an opportunity for efficiency: redefining "shifts" and allocating space dynamically over time in order to account for individuals' needs, responsibilities, or preferences. Rather than try to balance separate time periods for work and home, today's employees aspire for their work to be a way of life, not an obligation. Millennials, in particular, are remarkably unified as they lead the shift. When seeking a job, 88 percent 5 choose to work at a company with values that reflect their own. In turn, employers are looking to create workplaces that reinforce the company's values and attract and retain employees. The "office" must be a place to connect, communicate, and collaborate − one that offers access to tools, services, and amenities that employees don't necessarily have when working from home or in a coffee shop. Getting experiential in the war for talent The office is no longer a place you have to be, so it must become a place you want to be. Companies are beginning to recognize that well- designed office spaces can integrate work and life while boosting employee productivity, collaboration, and innovation. As a result, employees stay with the company. Traditional incentives (moving up the corporate ladder, corner offices, or pensions) have either disappeared or become irrelevant. Network-driven platforms such as Glassdoor and Facebook bring increased transparency to employees' quality of life. Publicized impressions of culture and workplace are serving as crucial differentiators for companies as they compete to attract the best and brightest. The effects of good workplace design So what does that engaging office look like, and how can your business design a vibrant workplace? Think of a workplace as a product. Designers frequently implement user testing to understand behavior and responses to new product ideas. Why not use the same method for real estate? Data from real-world spatial behavior reveals insights that can translate into office design. For corporate real estate seeking to be agile, collaborative, and dynamic, startups are a perfect case study. Spatially, many startups have found a natural environment in co-working − workplaces that enable an intensely agile and cost-conscious business strategy. Working late doesn't seem burdensome when there will be a jazz performance with free drinks in the office next door. These types of activity-based workplaces increase employee productivity by 16 percent 6 . Enterprise heavyweights require their own on-demand workplace ecosystem that is just starting to emerge as well. Companies are building shared spaces and services into class-A skyscrapers that give them the hospitality profile of a full-service hotel. 7 steps to embracing the disruption As fast-paced as we think the world is today, it will only move faster in the future. It is imperative that we design workspaces to respond accordingly, driven by a sophisticated understanding of the changing nature of work itself and evolving user behaviors and preferences. Here are seven steps to simultaneously improve quality of life and agile real estate strategies: 1. Support choice. Don't blindly force mobility on everyone. Determine which jobs really require private offices and permanent desks versus those that would be better served through a choice of activity-based workplaces. Free-desking programs should be supplemented with a mix of purpose-built spaces for individual and group work, collaboration, teaching and learning, creative work, and recreation. Much like a college campus, people should be trusted with identifying the best location for their work and be provided with a variety of places to choose from.

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