In November 2015 alone, Australians spent more than 1,645.9 million hours at work – many of which were spent in an office environment . Advances in technology, changes in business structures and the introduction of flexible working arrangements have steered a significant shift the way offices operate, the way people work and the way new and existing office fit-out projects happen across the country.
Building owners and facility managers invest a lot of money to ensure offices are functional from a power, heating, lighting and ventilation perspective. However, the comfort and happiness of the people working inside of them is sometimes overlooked – and it is these factors that are becoming important in order to increase building occupancy rates and rental yields.
Great working environments are imperative to ensure a happy and productive workforce. In fact, according to research that Schneider Electric conducted earlier this year in our study Activate to Collaborate – The evolution of the smart workplace, 95% of the people we surveyed believed the wellbeing of their employees and the impact this has on productivity are key components of their corporate and real estate strategy. We see the major drivers for investment in technology and building design as the need for innovation, increased productivity and talent attraction.
In response, Australia has seen a growth in the workplace flexibility trend – whether this is working hours, types of work available or even the physical space employees work in – which is one of the biggest challenge for building owners and facility managers.
Now more than ever, there is a real need to think beyond just functional workspaces, but consider how an office can become agile and adaptable to any future workplace trends. Building owners and facility managers need to break the mould and shift away from the traditional static office structure and compete with emerging workplace competitors. Large global organisations such as Microsoft, Unilever and KPMG have already jumped on to the trend and are implementing measures towards a flexible and agile office.
The design and implementation of activity based working environments involves a major transformation of work practices and habits, including behaviours and interactions with technology. Access to power and data is the lifeline to ensuring a well-run office and making sure these are connected effectively is important. Key to long-term success is working with a technology partner to ensure the work space can be easily adapted to a changing environment.
If employees are working day-to-day in an environment that allows greater flexibility to suit their working patterns, it increases employee satisfaction and productivity. Additionally, it means building owners and facility managers are at less risk of having to invest further in creating applicable offices for future tenants, ultimately, meaning a return on investment and reduced risk down the line.
1'November Key Figures’, Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 2015