The workplace is changing, advances in technology are allowing companies to break out of the confines of their static four walls and move towards a more dynamic and flexible working environment.

Whilst companies have always had a focus on customer experience, it is the recent renewed focus on the candidate and employee experience that has been the catalyst behind companies making changes to empower their employees to work in the time and space they feel they will be most productive.

From flexible working patterns to the evolution of the virtual office, there has never been a greater emphasis on creating an environment that has a positive impact on the creativity, productivity and wellness of employees.

Decentralisation of the workplace

Employees being tethered to their desks from 9-5 pm is fast becoming outdated. With flexible working arrangements, hot-desking and co-working spaces becoming the norm thanks to higher quality teleconferencing and other mobile and cloud based technologies allowing workers to make the most of the office and its facilities at any time of the day, whether in the office or working from home or elsewhere.

It is believed this freedom of movement creates a culture of trust, by giving employees greater autonomy over how and when they work there is a rewarding sense of intrinsic accountability that often doesn’t exist in the prototypical office environment. Combined with the flexibility to meet family needs, personal obligations, and life responsibilities more conveniently (and the reduced stress and expense of not having to commute in 5 days a week) flexible working is increasingly becoming a prerequisite to attract (and retain) top candidates.

As the needs of the workforce change, the workplace changes in tandem

The movement towards shaping a more collaborative working environment is continuing, with workspaces being designed for task-based work instead of job roles. This is being achieved through more open plan offices with dedicated spaces such as break out areas for informal meetings as well as quiet and private areas for employees seeking a more ‘zen’ environment in which to work. This more free-form use of space seeks to blur boundaries through a more lateral workplace structure. Different departments, different levels of hierarchy all sharing the same work space to create a more connected workforce.

Another emerging trend is the embracing a more ‘biophilic’ design. Biophilic design principles encompasses more than a few medium sized house plants dotted around the workplace; it focuses on climate, air quality, natural/artificial lighting to mimic our circadian rhythms as well as bringing natural landscape features into indoor spaces (vital given the average office worker spends 90% of the day indoors).

By incorporating elements of nature into the working environment, many workplaces have seen a reduction in employee stress, whilst productivity, creativity and rates of well-being increase. This trend has also been adopted in education, healthcare, hospitality and retail spaces.

What does the future hold?

In an increasingly on demand economy, a business’s ability to adapt to consumer needs will be key to their ability to stay relevant. Therefore, workplaces will no doubt continue shifting towards a more virtual presence through the implementation of more agile mobile technologies with a focus on connectivity, enabling business and their staff to work in a more flexible and ‘entrepreneurial’ way. All of which will allow companies to no longer be confined to (nor defined by) their geography.

If you’re needing legal advice in regards to commercial lease agreements, property development, property finance & banking, property investment & asset management or property litigation. contact our highly experienced commercial property team 0161 930 5151 or email and we will be in touch.

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