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Employee needs are changing. Here's how to design for them.

1 augustus 2017

What will work—and the workplace—look like in 2, 5, 10 or even 20 years?

While we can’t know for sure exactly where we’re going, let’s explore the possibilities. New technology, evolving trends and emerging business needs have companies shifting their workplace strategies to make employees happier, healthier and more productive.

How can you create the best experience for your people? What do they want from the workplace and which aspects of their reality are changing? Below, see five perspectives on designing a workplace to suit their shifting needs.

The end of employees

More U.S. companies than ever are outsourcing what they deem “non-core” functions to contractors, as reported by Lauren Weber. Some of the biggest employers have removed receptionists, mailroom clerks, analysts and even marketing functions from the payroll because these positions are more efficient and less expensive to hire out.

This trend toward a fully contingent workforce raises questions about job security, yes, but also the purpose of place. How can we tailor the workplace of the future to employees that aren't technically on board? An inclusive culture goes a long way. Create a universal brand experience for people in and outside the office, on and off the payroll. Allocate workspace for contingent workers and make sure you have the tech and conference solutions for teams to work from wherever. (WSJ subscription required)

How to build a connected workforce

A connected workforce means more than digital communication or physical collaboration. Those factors are smart ways to bring people together, but a truly unified workforce hinges on employees who understand each other’s work language, and how their teammates work. A connected workforce is one where all employees understand job functions and experience of their peers.

According to Tom Puthiyamadam, this is something many companies struggle to get right, or outright fail to consider, as they pick and choose digital solutions that promise a more collaborative employee experience. 

So how can you get it right? Make sure your physical layout helps break down silos and encourages cross-collaboration. A neighborhood or activity-based environment encourages interaction, fuels accidental collisions and builds understanding in a shared space.

The case for designing offices more like bars

The goal of “collision space” is to encourage face-to-face conversation, but one often overlooked design choice is keeping people quiet: seat height.

It turns out there’s a psychological reason that conversation flows more freely at bars: People sitting and standing are at the same eye height. Spontaneous eye contact increases conversation and engenders trust. And as Daniel Krivens points out, most offices are divided between those who are sitting, standing and walking. This “height segregation” isn’t conducive to conversation. Companies that incorporate more bar-top tables and “eye-to-eye” options will help encourage the interaction they’re after. 

How can inclusive design create a welcoming workplace?

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has ensured that employees with disabilities of all kinds are treated fairly and accommodated in the office. Now that the office is evolving, many employers are incorporating universal design, which goes beyond the basic ADA requirements to create a truly inclusive workplace. JLL’s Kim Vanderland outlines the business case for universal design and lists eight ways your office can incorporate inclusive elements—which, she adds, are not a huge investment.

Employees prefer effective technology over wacky design

A UK storage facility was motivated to uncover the value of “fun” office furniture after noticing a large number of businesses were putting them in storage. In a survey of office employees, they found that 79% of respondents felt reliable, modern technology was more important than office aesthetics.

Moreover, 86% said that fun features (like ping pong tables, hammocks and the like) were of no specific value and fewer than 10% ever even used them. Rather, they prefer functional features that provide tangible benefits to their work day.

Occupational health expert, Sir Cary Cooper CBE, says businesses often “confuse perks with culture.” These nice-to-have features are backseat to the meaningful aspects of culture like a guiding mission and company values.


Deze bedrijven nemen deel aan JLL's Winning Workplace Award 2017