How offices are transforming for changes in the nature of work
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How offices are transforming for changes in the nature of work

COMPANIES are becoming more responsive to change in the design of their offices to attract talent and engage clients more than ever before, according to a new report.

According to a recent whitepaper released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in partnership with real estate fund Brockton Capital, the rapidly changing nature of work is in turn transforming the fundamental role of the office.

“Previously a space in which to concentrate on tasks for the day, it is now primarily a space for interaction with colleagues and clients to exchange ideas,” wrote the report’s authors, who spoke to architects, academics and business leaders behind high-profile office developments to understand current trends in office design.

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The EIU found that while companies are increasingly allowing remote working they are also turning their offices into “exciting places to work”, providing open spaces for collaboration as well as boasting gardens, game rooms and gyms.

Many companies are addressing the limitations of open-plan offices by providing cafes or terraces where co-workers may have “chance” encounters with each other.

“If everyone is encountering each other all the time, you get a sort of group think, which is the opposite of creative and different,” said Simon Allford, director at architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.

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“Meeting gondolas” at Google’s office in Zurich, Switzerland. Source: Office Snapshots

Cybersecurity and data privacy are also now key considerations for office planning, wrote the EIU.

What’s more, conventional business having to compete with tech companies for the best recruits has shifted their thinking about office layout and rules.

“As the competition is so fierce from organisations like Facebook, Google and others, we definitely have changed our working practices for these folks,” explained Sally Boyle, international head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs.

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“[Data analysts] are allowed to dress casually every day. They are also allowed to work from home five days a week; it is not common for other employees to work from home every single day of the week.”

While every company’s approach is different, the EIU emphasised that the best workplaces were flexible, provided different kinds of environments and spaces, and above all prioritised employee health and wellbeing.

Max Holliday, director of real estate at creative agency WP said “it’s about creating exciting, interesting environments, where people want to come in to the work space and want to engage with their colleagues.”