Facilities teams are often tasked with a herculean challenge of implementing an office environment that can best meet the unique needs of today’s dynamic workforce.
Gone are the days of traditional cookie-cutter models of “cubicle hell” coupled with private offices famously displayed in cult classic films like Office Space, along with archaic communication technologies that do little to drive productivity. Today’s workplace calls for a more modern design offering different varieties of configurations that enhance company culture, along with the right communication technologies that help drive collaboration and innovation among geographically dispersed teams.
Of course, to implement such an environment takes more than just announcing new technologies and employee perks, such as “Hawaiian shirt Friday’s” as Bill Lumbergh tried to institute in Office Space. Today, it’s all about understanding the unique needs of the current and future workforce, and implementing an environment that satisfies those needs while helping to drive workplace results.
With that being stated, how do facilities teams gain a better understanding of their current and future workforce?
Knoll Inc., a modern design firm for offices features excellent insights with their recent presentation entitled, Shaping the Modern Workplace. Knoll’s research points out the vast differences among generational age groups in terms of their views of what is most and least important within an office environment. Baby Boomers, for instance, prefer privacy over an engaging workplace. On the flip side, Generation X and Y/Millennials prefer an engaging workplace over privacy.
Knoll’s research also highlights the changing shift with generational workers by the year 2020. In less than four years from now, Millennials will comprise over 50% of the workforce, and Baby Boomers will drop to 23%. And by this time a new generation will be entering the workforce – Generation Z – who as a rule value order, structure and predictability versus Millennials who value flexibility and an unstructured workspace.
So, how can real estate and facilities teams possibly be expected to design an office environment that is not only inviting to all generations but will also enhance corporate culture and drive workplace productivity and collaboration? While that’s a tall challenge, there are examples of companies that have instituted an environment that best caters to meet the unique needs of today’s dynamic workforce.
A recent Forbes article entitled, Your Corporate Headquarters Can Symbolize Your Company Culture, provides a couple of examples with the famous Googleplex and TELUS Garden, a 1 million square foot mixed-use development in the heart of Vancouver, Canada.
While Google’s headquarters, Googleplex, is known for its array of amenities, the environment itself was created to invoke a sense of community. This community is designed to help employees produce great results in their work by permitting openness and collaboration, which in turn has a direct impact on corporate culture.
At TELUS Garden, the expansive facilities comprised of commercial, retail and residential are sustainably designed to reduce CO2 emissions, and the office tower is currently submitting for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. TELUS also has a widely used innovation centre in which the company and its team members flesh out raw ideas and nurture new concepts that benefit their customer base. This unique and modern design is not only better for the overall environment and the health of its building occupants, but it also promotes better teamwork and collaboration, along with a more productive and engaged workforce.
Catering an office design to meet the needs of today’s diverse generational workforce is a hard challenge to overcome. And with many employees within an enterprise working remotely, it can be an even harder challenge to mimic the same level of collaboration and culture represented in the office.
Oak Lawn Marketing, a Japanese branding and media enterprise is an example of a company that has overcome this challenge. Much like any other enterprise, Oak Lawn Marketing is comprised of various functional departments spread across various regions that need to efficiently communicate with each other. The firm chose to implement a quality video conferencing solution, along with a unique furniture layout option to transform the traditional conference room environment to better mimic some conversations that typically take place in the office – e.g. hallway conversations and impromptu discussions.
Oak Lawn Marketing’s use of video conferencing and simplistic conference room furniture not only leads to greater collaboration, it also helps in-office and remote teams form a stronger bond with each other in a more relaxed and casual setting.
Whether it be a conference room, small huddle area, private offices, lobbies, or open lounge areas, today’s workforce, along with the workforce of the future, continues to realize that creativity and collaboration can be fostered from all types of workspaces. It’s up to the facilities teams to implement an environment with the right communication technologies that best meets these needs to enhance corporate culture and collaboration.