The Future Workplace

30th November 2015

With research and reports in the press regarding the future workplace how will lifestyle changes affect the traditional workplace in years to come? To understand advancements and how these will impact employers and businesses we sat down with Lily Bernheimer, a Workspace Analyst and one of Rapport’s Associates.

As an Environmental Psychologist, Consultant and Researcher Lily’s worked in human-centred design since 2007. She works closely with Rapport on analysing workspace using behaviour mapping methodologies and quantitive surveys to identify opportunities to promote productivity, inclusivity, physical health and well-being, while anticipating future growth or consolidation needs.

Her specialisms include behaviour change, agile workspaces and qualitative research.


Lily, how will future lifestyles impact on our working lives?

We’re seeing a major shift towards individual collectivism. In terms of work, family, and transportation patterns, people are functioning more independently and flexibly but are also grouping up in new types of networks. This trend is particularly strong in our work lives, where self-employment, homeworking, freelance work, mobile working, and co-working spaces are all on the rise.

Homeworkers are multiplying far faster than traditional commuting employees, increasing by 44% between 1998 and 2014 while the commuting population grew by less than 11%. The model of going to work for one employer in a head office every day is definitely on the decline.

Will we see a decline in the need for large traditional work spaces and offices?

Smart companies are rethinking how they can enable their employees to make the best use of their time, and make the most of their physical office space at the same time. With many people spending part of their week working from home or a local co-working space, head offices may not need to be as large.

What’s the future for remote working?

It’s important to remember that transfer of work away from the traditional office does not necessarily mean it will all shift into the home. There has been particularly strong growth in the number of people using their home as a base for work while working in a variety of locations: a 50.5% increase since 1998. The greater portion of time spent working at home or elsewhere is what allows companies to do away with the notion of one desk per person—moving towards hot-desking or activity-based working.

How will transport impact future ways of working, especially in larger cities?

The feasibility of a daily commute to the nearest city is losing influence over residential choice, replaced by sporadic access to major hubs, particularly London.

Between 1995-97 and 2011, the total number of commuting trips decreased 16%, but the average length of each trip went up by 9%. On the other hand, Millennials are also favoring city living and public forms of transportation in much greater numbers than recent generations were at the same age. Taken together, this means we’re seeing an end to the 20th century model of living in a dormitory suburb and commuting to the city centre every day.

Living and working functions will become more interspersed-both within cities and further afield. 

How should employers and business’s prepare for these shifts?

Traditional employers and office managers have a lot to learn from the success of co-working spaces. Open-plan and hot desking offices need to be carefully designed to foster different areas with a sense of privacy, personal space, individuality, and account for noise issues. If these issues aren’t properly addressed, well-being and productivity can severely suffer.

How will organisations need to work with employees to provide an achievable work/life balance in the future?

It’s important to work with staff to understand their needs and working habits on an individual level, as well as on a team level. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Different personalities, work roles, and teams will have different needs, and the workspace and work structures must accommodate these. There is also a growing expectation that workspaces will have a really high design quality and offer more homely comforts.

 

In the New Year, we’ll be discussing, with Lily, the importance of a Time & Space utilization study and how this can save your business money, promote wellbeing with employees and increase the longevity of your office design or business relocation.

 

You can speak with Rapport on; 01252 712590 or email us for advice on utilising your current space, an office move,  design or fit-out at; info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

To view our portfolio of work click here

The data from this article comes via the Tomorrow’s Home: Social Trends Report written and researched by Lily, in consultation with Robert Adam, Hugh Peter, ADAM Urbanism, Kurt Mueller, Grainger.