What exactly is driving the global workplace conversation?

There is a growing body of research and understanding on the impact that working environments, workplace habits and culture have on people and broader business performance. The very best workplaces in the world – some of which will be on show at Workplace Week in New York next month – are changing our expectations around the look, function and purpose of office space. These workplaces are designed much like ecosystems – every inch designed with the comfort, wellbeing and productivity of the people who occupy them in mind. The new world of ‘workplace management’ is about designing and delivering multi-faceted, minute-by-minute, multi-sensory experiences that create an emotional response. It is about designing workplace experiences to deliver a specific mission. It encompasses thinking about journeys and destinations, the fusion of space, information, and services – and how these reflect organisational personality, support human effectiveness, and lure in talent. But, as those in the industry will be all too aware, this hasn’t always been the case. So, what’s to thank for this fresh approach to workplace design and management?

Up until now, the majority of relocations and / or change management projects have been driven from a financial perspective, and not from the hypothesis that a new way of working and culture may better support employees in the jobs they have been employed to do. Rising rents and rates and falling margins, however, are just the encouragement some organisations need to innovate in order to maximise human performance while making assets work harder and more financially responsibly. The emphasis has been 70% cost drivers and 30% user experience drivers.

In cities like London, however, where real estate is at a premium, that emphasis is beginning to shift from 70 – 30% to 50 – 50%. Soon, there should be equal buy-in between the benefits of providing excellent workplace or employee experiences, and the rewards reaped from driving utilisation and efficiency (i.e. watching the purse strings). In New York, real estate costs are not as high as in London, but they are getting higher. As a result, there appears to be a new appetite for different ways of working on both sides of the Atlantic – and for a more energised workplace where the experience is meticulously created and supported.