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Workspaces to undergo further change in order to deal with burnout

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16 December 2019

Author: The Irish Times

Image: Elite Hotel by ECAL

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One driving force behind how workplaces will look in the future is the worker’s well-being. Martin Raymond shares insight with The Irish Times on
The Workplace Futures report

Our workspaces have seen a significant change in recent years and, according to a recent report, they are due to keep changing in order to deal with the burnout experienced by the current workforce. Think hotel lobby meets your own back yard, it’s far from a kettle, toaster and a mini fridge we are now. The Workplaces Future report, by Nespresso Professional and the Future Laboratory, outlines what our workplaces may look like in 2030.

During the last decade we have seen offices open up their floor space, taking down walls and creating open-plan offices with floating desks, but what seemed to be a more productive and inclusive work environment doesn’t seem the case anymore. Remote working has had an impact on workers’ needs and the way we communicate with our peers has changed. “Now it’s about a kind of a mixed bag, where you have a lot of booths appearing again, small rooms, breakout areas, huddle points rather than everybody working in those big open-plan offices,” says the Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond.

Collaborative

“Digital transformation over the last 10 years has changed how we work, but workspaces have failed to keep up. These next-generation tools aren’t just faster, they are smarter and more collaborative, allowing us to work in real time over greater distances.” And that distance is being created now with more people working remotely whether it be at home or in remote working hub. No matter where you are located the fluid workforce will have a more home from home feeling.

Pod Rooms by INTO the Nordic Silence
'Now it’s about a kind of a mixed bag, where you have a lot of booths appearing again, small rooms, breakout areas, huddle points rather than everybody working in those big open-plan offices.'

“We had a vested interest to understand the dynamic of this future, what does it look like? We used to see the workplace as a go-to location, a nine-to-five, to do your job and so on. It’s very fair to say that, driven by a newer generation, it is now more a place where people have the need and the willingness to interact and to really live a little bit more like the usual home environment we are used to seeing.

“If you think about a hotel, and you think about an area where people arrive at the reception of the hotel, we have these comfortable chairs and you usually have hospitality on tap, you’ve got food and beverage. This is more or less what the report is telling us,” explains Guillaume Chesneau, managing director of Nespresso UK and ROI. “It’s great news for [the US] of course, because we have a key role to play in this.”

One driving force behind how workplaces will look in the future is the worker’s well-being. In the past the gym might have been a place to execute stress but now a more holistic approach is coming into play. Areas where mindfulness and meditation can be practised or where employees can leave their desk to stretch or take part in yoga have been introduced in offices in the last few years and are set to become a permanent feature.

While all this may seem rather indulgent to the more mature, seasoned worker, the world has moved at pace in the last decade, bringing added pressures that might not have been experienced before.

Collapsed

“I think because we realise that the old divisions we had between work and play and personal and public have collapsed,” outlines Raymond. “I think technology has collapsed and we can be reached 24/7 in terms of work emails, direct messaging, Slack or whatever from work.”

Those who work remotely or have to travel for work can feel the anti-social aspect of their job cutting them off from their colleagues and in turn this creates the desire for more social workspaces.

My Hustle, Australia

“It’s hard to distinguish between the hotel foyer, the communal space and the office, and I think that’s because I have to bring my work home why can’t I bring my home to work. When we were collecting data about where your best ideas were had and where your best meetings were had, hardly any meetings were good if they were held in the meeting room or a white space room or whatever.”

Designated quiet areas are on the rise proving that the social aspect of the open-plan office was not the winner after all. It is more about creating spaces that will suit all needs. Miss your dog? Bring it to work. Miss nature? Go and work in the garden. It would appear the shoe is firmly on the employee’s foot in terms of having their needs met in the future and it seems like there is no end to the merger between our working lives and our social time.

Remote working spaces or co-working spaces are becoming more amenable too. They will become more localised and will start to appear in the high street and inside stores and cafes. Worktels, a hybrid of the office and hotel, will be a space for people to work, play and sleep. Work dorms will create a community style workspace where teams can go to “work and live together for a time to tackle a specific problem, or tackle results-orientated, project-based challenges”; likened to the film production model where specialists gather for particular projects.

Childcare needs will also be met with the introduction of co-working spaces which provide support for working mums.

According to the report I 2030, flagship offices will provide workers with a place to gather for annual all-hands meetings, impactful presentations and social events, acting as a central hub in which a Fluid Workforce can come together.”

It looks like the future of workspaces is to make life easier for the workforce with the emphasis on the worker’s well-being. It does beg the question: is blurring the lines between workplace and home life really going to be the answer to burnout?

This article was originally published on The Irish Times.

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