Business leaders recognise that workplace design needs to change
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a shock to the way we work and do business. Sudden and dramatic lifestyle changes have helped to shift the expectations of employees. The need for companies to be more flexible as a means to strengthen their resilience has been brought home to many business leaders. This is now beginning to have an impact on how businesses work and operate going forward. Changes to workplace design is one of the most tangible means by which businesses are likely to adapt to evolving circumstances.
Business leaders are ready to embrace change
A survey of 100 business leaders in Manchester by real estate consultancy OBI found that 70 per cent believe they will need to adapt their workplace design to better suit long term needs. “The Future of work and our city” report found that employers are concerned about the mental wellbeing of their employees, and recognise that expectations regarding work are likely to evolve further over the coming years.
The survey discovered that employers expect the workplace to become more agile and adaptive, with greater flexibility in how it’s used and with better access to the natural environment.
Top three changes in workplace office design
The survey asked business leaders to identify the three most important changes to the workplace over the coming years. These were:
- More technology to assist with flexible working
Many businesses were caught on the hop when the pandemic began. They quickly had to get up to speed with remote working, bringing in new technologies in a hurry to try and maintain their operations during the lockdown. Those that had already integrated flexible and remote working into their business were able to adapt quickly with minimal disruption. Ensuring that flexibility is in place is now a key concern for business leaders. It also reflects a growing employer demand for more flexible working patterns.
- More collaboration space
As well as technology to facilitate flexible working, the office design layout will need to include more space for collaborative working. If employees are going to be able to work collaboratively in the office, they will require more space in which to do so safely. This is a reflection of the lived experience of working during the pandemic and a trend that business leaders expect to see continuing. One of the longer-term benefits of more space within the workplace is likely to be a reduction in the number of days lost to sickness as viruses get less chance to spread.
- More space for video conferencing
Video conferencing has become an integral part of working practices over the last twelve months. Companies that had been reluctant to make use of the technology have been forced into doing so. Video conferencing is now helping employees to connect as well as improving efficiency while reducing costs and the business carbon footprint. Going forwards, business leaders recognise that office design will need to incorporate more space for video conferencing.
A sustainable and flexible work future
This survey of Manchester business leaders reflects broader trends and anecdotal evidence from across the industry. Change is already taking place with offices being redesigned and new ways of working becoming embedded in business practices. Forward-thinking business leaders are already thinking creatively about how they can respond to these changes. In doing so, they will not only support their employees but find their businesses better placed to grow back stronger over the coming years.