In March 2020, thousands of Australian businesses were asked to work virtually as COVID-19 transformed what, how, when, and where we work. This transformation fuelled by macro-economic drivers and an explosion in technology not only shifted present but future expectations of employees, with 75% of employees now wanting to continue work in a hybrid way.
Yet, the flexibility of the virtual workplace and the speed at which it has been acted on hasn’t come without compromises; learning & coaching, collaboration & ideation, social connectedness & community, mental health & wellbeing have all been impacted.
Understanding the impact of these compromises now creates an opportunity to leverage the learnings we have taken from virtual working and purposefully design a new hybrid of virtual and physical work environments.
So, what does the future of the workplace look like?
The leap into virtual ways of working has highlighted how our workplaces are more than just physical offices, they are the digital channels we use to collaborate and the places we feel most comfortable.
In the future the workplace will be seen as an overarching ecosystem that includes the home office, virtual office, physical workplace hub, distributed offices, and any other places where an employee may choose to work anywhere, anytime while they are on the go. This ecosystem approach will fundamentally reframe the way we approach property portfolios and workforce strategies creating greater access to a wider geographic pool of talent.
As such we will see the role of the workplace shift, as individual work continues to occur remotely and dispersed teaming becomes normalised. The future workplace will be primarily about human face-to-face activities – collaboration & ideation, client engagement, social and relationship building, and access to unique or specialist amenities. Individual work will become a secondary function of the workplace experience with an increase in uptake for touchdown and teaming activities.
How might we approach the return to the workplace?
We need to look at the workplace ecosystem holistically – space, technology, process, policy, culture, behaviour. We will need to shape the ecosystem with a human-centred design approach understanding work and worker needs to inform workplace requirements.
The success of the future workplace will be reliant on the development of new guidelines and spatial etiquette to foster inclusive behaviours and develop new cultural norms around how we can work effectively. Key to this will include shifting mindsets, upskilling teams, and leaders in hybrid management practice teams to ensure there’s a base of technological competency (when and how to use it) with an understanding of how to engage in a virtual world.
Ultimately, we must embrace this time of uncertainty with an iterative and empathetic mindset to learn, adapt and evolve not only with the pace of change but with the hearts and minds of our people, clients & community.
To read more on the approach download the full ‘The future of the workplace’ report now.
Published 14 Mar 2021