Office environments are evolving for the better. Employers are now more aware than ever about an office environment’s influence on staff, performance and how the office shapes perceptions about the organisation.
Improvements to digital communication technology, workforce empowerment, flexibility and support for work-life balance has seen alternative working arrangements, such as working remotely, telecommuting and working from home, bandied as game-changers.
In 2012, Australia’s then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard set a target for the public sector to explore these possibilities and to increase the number of workers who telecommuting to 12% by 2020. Yet today, the workforce is nowhere near that. A mere 1% of employees have any such formal arrangements in place with their employers.
Similarly in New Zealand, despite a spike in remote working following the Christchurch earthquake a few years ago, the work culture has not evolved much either.
While most of us probably know of someone who telecommutes, the reality is that this hasn’t occurred enough to nullify the social, organisational and technological isolation effect on a career when working remotely, however much we ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ each time we hear of such flexible work arrangements.
For most organisations replacing physical spaces and direct human interaction is still a long way away. Particularly when these are proven to improve productivity and morale.
Yet, because times and technology are changing, cramped cubicles and colourless conference rooms don’t quite cut it anymore.
So for many businesses, investing in improving the office environment itself bears important merit. Especially with a more collaborative generation taking over the workplace. The convenience desired by employees and customers alike, along with rising expectations of employers for productivity demand changing office environments. Environments where modernity, equipment, lighting and design are integrated with flexibility and convenience to support the needs of a mobile, technologically-driven (and reliant) workforce.
However, businesses wanting to be more reactive to employee needs with office spaces that are productive, comfortable and modern can take heart. Achieving this doesn’t necessarily rely solely on drastic overhauls. You don’t need to have a chunk of your workforce working remotely or go to Google-like lengths for a refurbished space to have the same improvements in productivity.
A rearrangement of work spaces, a clever re-use of existing spaces, open work areas, texture and design, even a new coat of paint or colour palette can realise this.