The quiet revolution...don't worry, there's no bloodshed!
I have just read a fascinating piece by Philip Tidd, Gensler’s Head of Consulting for EMEA. He articulates brilliantly the change in the workplace driven by the continuing war for talent and the desire to increase "productivity and engagement (the latter being the key to unlocking the former)". This change is exacerbated by ubiquitous mobile and social technologies that encourage collaboration and mobility, and the space we work in needs to reflect this.
Writing a week or so ago about the increasing involvement of HR in the real estate decision making process, I have been witnessing a quiet, global revolution in the way office space is acquired and delivered. Tidd observes that we are starting to see the old benchmarks and metrics that measured success or failure in a building by occupancy, vacancy and density, being brought into question. He believes the focus on efficiency needs to change if the true measure of a “high-performing workplace” will be its positive impact on the “productivity" of people and instead the new metrics are wellbeing and productivity ratios.
I mostly agree with this analysis but ask two questions:
1. How do you accurately measure this? – staff retention, personal recommendations of talent from existing staff; or do you apply ROI formulas and look at revenue and sales as a guide?
2. Whilst corporations may accept this refocus, our world is still commercially driven and in my experience space efficiency has transformed businesses that have been historically strangled from the noose of surplus, underutilised, office space. So how easy will it be to move away from this model?
The answer? Well, I don't think the two (wellbeing and efficiency) are mutually exclusive so, for the future of work it is how we harness them in tandem, alongside technology, that determines if we can truly unlock significant value.