By definition, the workplace is a place to do business. There has however been a structural change in the way it is being used.
More and more companies are recognising the need for, and benefit of, a multitude of different environments for their staff: collaborative areas to workshop, social ‘playgrounds’ to relax or freewheel ideas, dedicated wellness areas, booths and quiet spaces for deep thinking, as well as outdoor areas for peace and inspiration.
The office is not most people’s favourite places to be. Open plan workplaces, in particular, are noisy and distracting, stifling creativity and productivity. Meanwhile, unlimited holiday days often go untaken, staff in open-plan offices don’t actually communicate more and hot desking is a hotbed for problems.
To combat this, companies are getting experimental with what they offer employees. Trendy office perks have the focal point of company culture — above even salaries — with giants like Google leading the way with its more avant-garde office offerings (slides, ping-pong tables and sleep pods, to name a few perks).
These offerings will become even more important as Millennials and graduating Gen Z-ers take over the workplace. It’s estimated they will make up 35% and 24% of the global workforce by 2020 respectively, and they approach work in a totally different way to previous generations. While Friday night beers are a pleasant added extra, this younger cohorts expectations will reshape corporate real estate.
They are searching for companies that align with their beliefs, that will nurture them and allow their individual voices to be heard. 69% of millennials would trade other ‘perks’ for what they see as a better workplace environment.
From flexible working and wellness provisions (such as healthier snacks, mental health days and meditation sessions) to functional office layouts and outdoor space, this generation thinks far beyond the salary, HR and job package when deciding whether to accept a role — or stick with it.
“Millennials look for the best workplace possible — it’s a competitive advantage and differentiator in the market,” explains James Pearson, senior analyst at CBRE, the largest global real estate services and advisory firm.
“People are understanding that workplace and real estate is a top-line issue and through caring for your employees, they’ll actually do better things. We’re seeing a shift towards the digitally enabled consumer and how the real estate industry can provide great experiences for employers in the workplace.”
But with all these demands front of mind, how can big businesses begin to recognise and address these shifts? The Centric Lab, a London based cognitive neuroscience research firm established in 2016, provides useable and practical insight to the built environment industry, helping inform all aspects of building, city and technology design.
“Eureka moments don’t happen when someone’s stuck on the Underground wedged between an armpit and someone’s sandwich” says Josh Artus, co-founder and director. People need places to “rapidly understand themselves, radically understand the world around them and radically understand completely different cultures,” he explains.
From collaborating with UCL researchers on future-proofing 70 St Mary Axe (a new London skyscaper) to informing EU directives on the human biological implications of climate change, The Centric Lab is helping companies create more human-centric and fit-for-purpose working environments.
In the next few articles from Clipper, we’ll showcase the companies and office providers at the cutting edge of this movement (from startup businesses to large-scale developments like Republic) and speak to the experts that are helping the world at large understand the need for a new type of office.
Clipper Magazine is produced for Republic by Courier Media.
Article Last Updated: March 8, 2023