30 October 2017 | By Chris Ireland Community

The future of the workplace is more human than you think

How the way you design your office space can transform your business

Advances in artificial intelligence and connected technologies are improving productivity and efficiency – and unlocking huge potential for employees and businesses across the globe. And as these advances continue to redefine how we work, workplaces are moving swiftly towards using space more resourcefully and fostering a culture of openness and mobility. 

JLL’s recently published study “Workplace, powered by Human Experience” (which analyses responses from more than 7,300 respondents in 12 countries) reveals that employee engagement, empowerment and fulfilment are more critical than ever before.

Progressive companies are recognising that employee wellbeing and experience are a fundamental priority in the workplace. This in turn presents an opportunity for property occupiers and investors to outperform. 

So why the seemingly sudden focus on the human experience, after decades in which it was a secondary issue?

Managers are increasingly aware that they get the best from people who are inspired and nurtured by their work environment. And it is also necessary for technological innovation to work seamlessly alongside the human workforce.

The new generation of employees is also more demanding – they want to work for organisations whose ethos they believe in and within environments where they feel at home. Creating places where people really want to work is therefore more important than ever. Employers need to improve the quality of the human experience in the workplace in tandem with the growth of technology.

Employers want to help their people communicate and to feel more committed, but where should they start?

Our survey came up with some interesting answers. We already know that workers are turning away from traditional and familiar workplace and desk-based concepts. A significant proportion of people want to escape their desks (39 per cent) and find places to recharge (40 per cent) or those designed to aid concentration (47 per cent).

Our research also highlights the three main elements that employers need to address in order to cater for the needs of their workers: engagement, empowerment and fulfilment.

Engagement is usually the area that organisations concentrate on most – demonstrating the reasons why employees should be committed to them. But winning engagement also comes through offering more empowerment and fulfilment to staff.

Fulfilment: the new happiness 

Empowered workers are often involved in designing their own physical surroundings and have access to a range of innovative spaces. Fulfilled workers know that their needs are catered for through the design of their workplace.

Nearly nine out of ten respondents support the appointment of a Chief Happiness Officer (CHO), someone with the responsibility to act as the custodian of their well-being. 

Google already has a CHO. And Virgin, with its staff consultations on workspaces, is a pioneer of putting people at the centre of office design. It seems clear that many other businesses are getting ready to follow suit.

Empowerment and fulfilment have strong real estate implications

While there is no one size fits all approach to generating an ideal working environment, our research reveals that your workplace design can enable you to transform your business. An office environment influences productivity, attraction and engagement of staff, and reflects the culture and brand decisions that ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.

The future world of work means the return on a property investment will depend on new measures of success – the satisfaction, productivity and wellbeing of people in your building. 

Ultimately, buildings that nurture satisfied staff will offer achieve a higher market value for their owners. So for property investors, understanding the demand for more flexible working arrangements, among employers and employees, will become as important as the asset itself.

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