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With technological advances come changes in the way we deal with our professional lives – our jobs, businesses, our resources, our markets and our workplaces. There is also a change in the attitude and mindset of people vis-à-vis the workplace.
Employees and workers desire and demand happier, encouraging, aesthetically pleasing workspaces and compassionate, helpful, motivating bosses. They look for collaboration and open communication. They want the sharing of ideas and thoughts and work process details. All these impinge on the expectations of employees with respect to the physical workspace which thus has to alter and modify itself to encompass these hopes and aspirations.
Layout of the future workplace
The question before us is how do we prepare the layout of the future workplace – the physical setting of the place of work so as to enhance productivity, efficiency, creativity, innovativeness and create a culture of cooperation, mutual support, inspiration, interaction and happiness. My experience has thrown up a few requirements that will lead to happier, constructive and positive work environments.
To begin with, the workplace should reflect the organization’s culture, values, history and story. The younger generation – the millennials – places great emphasis on transparency, trust, faith, and credibility. They look for authentic experiences that reinforce the company philosophy and beliefs. The physical office has to exhibit and strengthen the core ideals of the company and connect with employees by using walls and hallways to depict the company culture, on a daily basis.
Motivate, encourage and inspire
The workspace has to motivate, encourage and inspire the work force. Again, you could use wall spaces for art, paintings, you could arrange pieces of inspiring sculpture, you could design the place in innovative architectural designs that enhance positivity. You could use graphics and visual aids to enthuse and stimulate your team.
The workplace has to provide for a sense of well-being. Apart from the traditional ways of doing this by banning smoking and designing ergonomical furniture, there is a tremendous need to create an atmosphere that promotes health and well being – in body and in mind.
A connect with nature
A connect with nature creates and reinforces wellness – make an effort to design offices overlooking parks and gardens, bring plants into the office for cheer and good health.
Allow for free physical movement around the workplace, do away with closed cabins and high partitions between individual work spaces, enable open communication and face-to-face discussions. Keep an open office where people are easily accessible, particularly team leaders and bosses. Provide “rest areas” where people can take a short break from work and recharge their energy. Keep your employees happy and they will give you their best.
Build bonds between people
Design your office space to enhance collaboration and build bonds between people. A friendly atmosphere, face-to-face interactions promote hard work and give positive outcomes- employees feel engaged and looked after. Have cozy little corners tucked away between work areas to allow for informal discussions, encourage employees to walk around and talk to colleagues and exchange and share ideas and thoughts.
Allow for a mix of private work spaces and open office plans to include the work choices of both the extroverts ( those who need people around, who are assertive and “loud”) and the introverts ( who prefer quiet and solitude during work) – when people see that they have a choice, they tend to be more involved a and productive. Choices could be about work areas, lighting, temperature, work from home options, flexi-times etc. Your employees are your biggest asset – look after them so that they can contribute positively to your company.