We love showcasing great new workplaces on the pages of Love Your Workspace but we’re aware that often we show you places and spaces that are the result of trends that have already shaped our working worlds.
Therefore, in an effort to explore the inside track of the latest trends in workspace design, we spoke to three leading lights in this rarefied world:
Kate Horton, Principal and Workplace Strategy expert at Unispace
David Plaistowe, Design Director at Stack Interiors; and
Sarah Bryant, Senior Workplace Strategist at Jasmax, who has just returned from a study tour of Europe’s latest workspaces.
We put one simple question to them: what workplace trends are catching your eye at the moment? And this is what they had to say…
Kate Horton, Principal and Workplace Strategy expert at Unispace
In saying that there are many trends out there at the moment, Kate raised four in particular:
1. Consider your workplace a precinct
“We encourage our clients to make the most of the precinct philosophy. Many overseas organisations are putting great thought into this. Asking ‘how can our property be used as a strategic lever for our business?’ to create that workplace experience which gives employees the successful mix of place, space and service as well as supporting business growth.
Lendlease in Barangaroo, Sydney, for example, gave huge thought as to how they would blur and mix office and retail components to great success. Closer to home, I’m excited to see how Commercial Bay leverages this workplace/retail mix approach in downtown Auckland.
Property selection is a big influencing factor; that’s where Unispace gets involved as a trusted advisor to help businesses make those key property decisions.”
2. “That was such a good experience…”
“The three traditional pillars of people, place and technology are way too simplistic for the modern world – we need the magic on top to pull it all together. That’s why we ask our clients to remember an amazing experience, like dining for example – the outstanding location, atmosphere, price, and exceptional service - and work with them to emanate that in the workplace.
“This is where the BNZ Partners Centre in Wellington stands out: it satisfies a real business need, has an exceptional food and beverage offering and hosting for clients, and the technology has been really well thought out and integrated. You walk in, feel the vibrancy and the hum. People rave about that. This kind of result and response is why I do what I do.”
BNZ Partners Centre, Wellington
3. Workplace labels are coming off
“The old labels of working models are coming off – they’re too confusing. The main differences between ABW and Agile are in how they support speed to market, the fail fast philosophy, visibility and cross-team working.
By being able to map out these differences, we can ask the question ‘how do people need to work in order to perform and deliver for their organisation?’ and tailor the workplace strategy to directly feed into business performance.”
4. Staff experience greatest influencer on customer experience
“I really think about the staff experience and how it influences property decisions from the very beginning. It’s all about planning and talent management, thinking where your people are coming from in ten years. You have probably signed a long lease, so you need to think more about how your workforce will be made up in future.
“It won’t be long until everyone in our workforce will have grown up with social media as an integral part of their lives, and it will be them who will be our greatest brand ambassadors in a networked world.
We need to link brand, culture and customer experience more with staff experience. Consumers / customers / clients more than ever are looking to the greater employee base and how they feel about their employer, as the measure of trust and investment in a brand.”
David Plaistowe, Design Director at Stack Interiors
Wellbeing and healthy workplaces are the forefront of the corporate mindset, and rightly so, says David Plaistowe.
“We are working with Southern Cross Health to create a healthy environment for their people. As you might imagine, this is a key element for them. ‘Agility and active working’ is the term we are working with, which from a design perspective means using sustainable materials in the basis of every design. It also means working out how their spaces support more active and dense environments, focusing on the proximity of people, air quality, sound etc. to maintain a healthy workspace.”
Plaistowe says this has involved a journey to get technology into their spaces. “Technology is very much king in the workspace. It underpins what we are doing, as it is such an enabler, helping large – and smaller – organisations to become more and more accessible. This is coming more and more to the forefront as technology comes down in cost; building data around space utilisation to allow corporates to monitor and manage their space.”
Describing this synergy between the work that designers are doing and its validation by corporates enabled by technology including Z Energy, Milford Asset Management and Online Republic, Plaistowe talks about the key shift that there has been from Activity-Based Working to agility in workplaces.
“Truly agile workspaces need to have buy-in led from the top of an organisation. If not, the success of the space and the change journey will be inhibited; bringing people along is critical. People need to buy into how a new environment supports them. When people have moved into a new space the change journey has to continue or the ways of working are at risk of being lost as people revert to old behaviours.”
Sarah Bryant, Senior Workplace Strategist at Jasmax
A recent client study trip to the Netherlands and the UK to visit some of the latest and most high-profile workplaces in Europe revealed that many of the trends of the recent past - productivity, collaboration, wellness, and user experience – are all being blended together. In short, the workplace needs to do it all, says Bryant.
“In Holland, ABW is pretty commonplace, but it is not driven by a need to simply save space. It’s driven by the need to enable people and their business to thrive through creating heightened experiences, within attractive and compelling places to work. This is increasingly about keeping workplaces simple and having fewer rules; making spaces intuitive so people instinctively know how they can be used.
“Supporting wellness is part of this intuitive experience. We design to encourage physical movement in a workplace, using sculpture devices like stairs to move people around the building. Today, it’s more about creating a journey, enabling people to see what their colleagues are doing, and absorb the energy or atmosphere of work over the course of their day.
“Bloomberg’s gigantic collaboration ramp was an impressive example of this. You travel through the building using a spiral ramp on steroids. It’s wide enough for people to walk side-by-side, conversing with colleagues as they go from one level to another, meanwhile seeing what’s going on all around them in the building.
“All the workplaces we saw in Europe also had fantastic plaza spaces where people could work, meet and eat. Variety is a real theme: one office plaza we saw has seven different zones, each designed by a different artist, each evoking different moods and feelings in each design.”
In New Zealand, Bryant says that the BVN + Jasmax-designed B:Hive coworking space on Auckland’s North Shore - the Supreme award winner at the Interiors Awards 2019, and recognised with an Excellence at the recent Property Industry Awards - is a strong example of these trends.
“By prioritising movement via the helical staircase in the centre of the B:Hive atrium, movement is not just encouraged it is celebrated. The experience of using this circulation device enhances wellness by inviting people into the airy, light, and landscaped atrium space. Bryant says that co-working is also evolving as it becomes blended innovatively by companies, leading to a final trend she spotted in the Netherlands.
“Microsoft needed to do an office refit, but they didn’t take another space to house their staff during the renovation. They all went and worked in their partners and customers’ offices while the refit was underway.
“An added benefit was their customers now come to see them more and work in their space, blurring the lines of co-working and the traditional workplace. New thinking about shared space use has helped all of them to learn a lot about each other. Fundamentally a great workplace supports great relationships.”
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