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Strategies to rethink, recreate and reengage your workplace

Despite Australian states and territories being at different stages of the pandemic adjustment, hybrid working is gaining momentum across the country. Hybrid working involves a mix of office and remote work, either to a schedule or with flexible working arrangements. Workplace design company Evoke Projects looks at strategies to rethink, recreate and reengage your workplace as we adapt to new ways of working.

RETHINK space planning and office fit-outs

Under hybrid working models, the commercial fit-out strategy might need to be changed:
(i) to make better use of the real estate
(ii) to relocate to a more cost-effective location
(iii) to provide workplace solutions in more regional locations
(iv) to attract employees back to the office.

These decisions will be unique to every business. However, looking at general desk allocations within office fit-outs, global real estate services firm JLL writes that “major occupiers are telling us that they are planning 82 desks per 100 employees, versus 91 desks per 100 employees pre-pandemic.”1 The workplace design researchers at Evoke Projects have also seen companies quoting as low as 60 desks per 100 people.

To attract people back to the office, the JLL Human Experience report noted that APAC employees “would delight in having access to: advanced food services like wider food choices (76%), well-being and health services (both at 75%), followed by sports services (68%) and services that ‘make life easy’ (65%). In addition, the top three spaces that would significantly boost one’s experience in the office are spaces dedicated to focus work (like concentration pods or telephone booths), socialisation, and learning and development spaces.”2

Always be ready to RECREATE

To quote Helen Snowball, JLL’s Chief Human Resources Officer Asia Pacific: “The biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that the future can be anything”.3 With this in mind, office design and fit-outs should be able to be recreated for whatever the future may bring.

An adaptive office design also has a more immediate place in the hybrid work model. Managers at Deloitte (Alexander Braier, Matt Garrett, Sarah Smith, Amrita Datar and William D. Eggers) suggest that the “optimal choice” is a “workforce that is able to work from anywhere but is empowered to work from where they’re most productive”.4 Evoke’s workplace designers recommend adaptive activity-based zones for in-office computer work, collaboration, confidential work and creative thinking. Staff with busy homes may also be attracted back to the office to use the quiet and breakout zones.

REENGAGE your people

According to a Deloitte study, employee engagement overall tends to be at its highest among employees who work remotely 60–80% of the time. And, according to a Gallup poll, teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive.5

Reengaging staff includes all staff whether they are working in the office or remotely. The previously mentioned managers at Deloitte highlight the importance of considering performance management in hybrid working scenarios where some employees have greater visibility than others. “To unleash the true potential of hybrid work, processes and systems designed to reward behaviours that only apply to an in-person setting need to be adapted to serve the needs of the whole employee—no matter what their location. More frequent check-ins with supervisors and feedback on a regular cadence rather than annually play a big role when managing a hybrid workforce or where in-person interactions are reduced”.6

Staff returning to the office provide opportunities for collaboration, connection and important economic support to surrounding businesses.  American Real Estate Partners (AREP) and Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation have published a useful checklist for a workplace design that optimises the human post-pandemic experience and productivity:7

  • Less density and more flexible spaces for collaboration, individual work and social connection
  • Access to outdoor green spaces and work areas
  • Large windows to provide natural light and scenic views
  • Proximity to amenities that encourage physical movement, such as walking trails and bike paths
  • Walkable neighbourhoods with a variety of restaurant and retail amenities
  • Plentiful healthy food options
  • Beautiful building design and materials
  • A central location, easily accessed by a short commute, convenient roads and transit for largest talent pool
  • Safe, clean indoor air
  • Temperature controls
  • Dependable safety and security

As we adapt to living with COVID in our community, agile workplaces that think outside the square will be the future winners. For workplace design and fit-out ideas to reengage your workplace, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.

1,2,3.https://www.peoplematters.in/article/employee-relations/reimagining-the-future-of-work-and-the-workplace-28218

4,5,6.https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/public-sector/designing-for-adaptive-work-in-the-public-sector.html

7.https://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2021/04/09/accelerate-post-pandemic-performance.html

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