Well, the future has arrived, and ideas more farfetched than those are being implemented in offices worldwide to enhance the happiness and lives of staff.
In five to 10 years’ time, we should see no boundary between the office, lifestyle and health. Workplace design strategy and wellness will increasingly become a key component in talent attraction and retention.
Wellness-oriented work culture
The rise of fitness-tracking tools, or wearables, has made it clear that technology can provide valuable insights and motivation that contribute to wellness. Companies can utilise technology as a true enabler of wellness in the workplace, although the take-up has been relatively slow. A Colliers International study found that only 26% of firms said they subsidise or support employees’ use of fitness trackers. That said, we expect this to change progressively and significantly by 2022.
In the coming years, we envision that every employee will have access to a personal wellness dashboard and a health coach familiar with their personal requirements. If organisations can find a way to provide technologies that offer more health/fitness insights to employees, organisations may foster a new wellness-oriented working culture that not only enhance the individual’s well-being, but initiate collaboration and innovation too.
Like many great ideas, designing and implementing an optimal workplace strategy is not accidental or stumbled upon, and should not be left to chance.
One way to create an active workplace is to carve the space into different zones based on function. For example, placing printer areas, coffee points or social hubs in various parts of the office can help to create movement.
Corporations should look to create journeys within their offices so that it increases the chance for staff to develop accidental interaction with each other. This is critical as chance meetings provide a platform for employees to share ideas and experiences, and perhaps develop innovative solutions to challenges experienced by varied business lines, not just team-mate to team-mate.
Creating healthier workplaces in today’s business environment is focused around two features – the first is in devising a mix of work settings using furniture and physical space. For example, furniture that helps to encourage movement breaks such as height adjustable desks or standing high benches. There are even ‘smart’ sit-stand desks that prompt users to take a break and stand up when the sensors detect that the person has been seated for a prolonged period.
The second feature is to create a culture of destinations throughout an employee’s day-to-day activities within the workplace. The idea is to get people to move about at least 50% more on average than they would in the typical office environment. The destinations would include open collaboration areas and even private phone booths situated away from but close to a team’s work area.
The best is yet to come
Technology is disrupting entire industries and promises to be a game-changer in workplace design and how occupiers physically use their space. Beyond reactively adapting to workplace needs and preferences, the work environment will be able to recognise people, anticipate their needs and adjust proactively.
In the near future, the work environment may well “talk” directly to your fitness wearables and other technologies to adjust workplace settings based on your physical activity levels, calendar and/or your current stress level.
The future is bright, the future is tech and we will see the impact of technology change the way we work in a productive and beneficial manner for both business and well-being. Our work environments will change, but importantly we will see the concept of wellness in the office rise higher up the priority lists within organisations.
People are the most valuable asset, their wellbeing will impact performance, productivity, retention and attraction. We look forward to the new world of work.
Think about how virtual reality and augmented reality could potentially change the way we work. Perhaps going to the office in the future will be as easy as putting on a VR headset and having your virtual-self projected to a virtual office?