Workplaces Of The Future
Over the past years, there has been a steadily growing transformation of the corporate workplace, from a purely functional space to one that reflects higher values and meaning.
The goal is to create a new workplace reflecting a new organisational culture, that inspires not only higher productivity, but also higher job satisfaction and deeper commitment among employees.
Many modern employees are looking for more than just job security coupled with a good salary. Instead, they want a workplace that provides them with the following life qualities:
A Larger Purpose: their company should work towards a larger goal, and not just financial profit
Positive Organisational Values: employees are looking for businesses that consciously cultivate positive values in their operations
Transparent Leadership: a flat hierarchy where employees can interact with top executives easily, resulting in more trust and commitment
An Inspiring Company Culture: the way that staff members interact with each other and with clients should be positive, creating an environment that’s fun to work in
Work-Life Balance: employees are not just focused on their jobs, but are also able to enjoy other areas of life, such as sports, hobbies, good food, etc., resulting in a higher productivity that is more sustainable
The workplace of the past
Traditionally, businesses have followed a very different course, embracing a pyramidal hierarchy in which the average employee is far removed from top executives.
In addition, the main focus was usually on financial performance, and few businesses actually bothered to define their organisational values, let alone cultivate them.
The workplace of the past reflects this culture: top executives are placed in large secluded offices with a stunning view, while employees in lower positions work in small cubicles in a large common room.
The architecture and furniture of traditional businesses also follow this trend – in the common areas, the main emphasis is on function, without consideration for aesthetics, or the effect on the human psyche.
Finally, life balance is traditionally not something businesses concern themselves with, instead focusing all attention on the adequate job performance of their employees.
The trend is changing
Modern businesses have started changing their workplace in recent years, with tech giants in Silicon Valley leading the way.
Companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc., are working on creating a new workplace that is radically different from the past, and that reflects a new organisational culture.
Hierarchies are becoming flatter and more transparent. As a result, executives are often placed together with other employees, and common rooms are now designed to be generous and architecturally appealing for everyone, not just the top levels.
The idea behind all of this is that all employees are important for the company and that everyone will perform better in an inspiring environment.
It’s psychologically well documented that people generally perform worse in an environment that depresses them, especially if they have to spend many hours there every day.
A workplace that reflects positive values
The changing workplace goes hand-in-hand with changing organisational values. More and more companies are taking the time to define their core values.
Apple is a great example of this. Their core values include making the best products possible, focusing on a few selected projects to make a real difference, as well as fostering collaboration and cross-pollination between their teams.
If excellence is one of your company’s core values, it makes sense to put a lot of effort into creating a work environment that is also truly excellent. Otherwise, you risk coming off as hypocritical – demanding excellence while forcing employees to work in a shabby environment.
Also, if collaboration and cross-pollination are among your core values, you need to create an office layout, and supporting spaces, that support and inspire active communication – not just within teams, but also between departments.
In addition to using the architecture and furniture to reflect their core values, many businesses are also putting their values into writing, to be displayed prominently in common areas.
Bringing work-life balance to the workplace
Many modern businesses have started providing their employees with spaces for recreational activities at work.
Great examples of such spaces are an office gym, a cafeteria or dining area, a mediation room, outdoor green spaces, etc. The possibilities here are endless.
Again, the idea behind this is to create an environment that inspires people to spend time at their workplace and to perform at their very best, instead of viewing it as a daily burden.
Also, there are many psychological studies that show that human beings are more productive if they can take regular breaks and do something that relaxes them for a while, before returning to their professional tasks.
Taken together, the transformation of the modern workplace is increasingly moving towards a greater emphasis on expressing excellence, transparent hierarchies, and positive organisational values at work.
Businesses are prepared to invest a lot of effort in designing and creating a truly inspiring workplace, with the aim of inspiring truly great performance and commitment in their employees.