5 features employees now expect in their workplace

The way employees think about the workplace has shifted significantly as the way we use and think about space should be grounded in people.

June 28, 2021

The office is no longer a place to be anchored at a desk whilst trying to block out the background buzz to meet that crucial 4pm deadline.

Increasingly office workers are exploring an alternative – one that allows the freedom to work in different spaces according to needs and preferences.

“Rather than introduce completely new ideas, the events of 2020 accelerated the realisation that work is not somewhere you go, but something you do, no matter where it happens,” says Ashleigh Duke, JLL New Zealand Head of Project and Development Services

“And it’s the workforce – empowered by technology and looking for companies to do more on supporting their wellbeing – who is now driving and accelerating change. Businesses need to reinvent themselves with the workforce front of mind.”

Many companies from tech to financial services have adopted or are moving to more hybrid work models that incorporate a range of locations with modern designed spaces and strategies to provide a better workplace experience.

“This is the beginning of a golden age for workers,” says Duke.

“We’re starting to see traditional work and workstyles move away from the office and the evolution of the workplace into a people-centric environment.”

So what do today’s employees now expect?

1. 9am to 6pm, five days a week in the office? No

As the experiment of 2020 shows, with video conferencing and digital collaboration tools people can work from anywhere. JLL research shows the for many workers having a better work life balance is now considered more important than a comfortable salary.

Further, 71 percent say they’re expecting more flexible work schedules. For companies, it requires a shift in traditional people management, looking beyond presenteeism (the act of being present at work even if one is too sick to be productive, or work beyond the expected hours) to new ways of keeping employees engaged and maintaining productivity.

2. Flexibility

Flexible working requires more flexible space, whether desks in third party coworking facilities in between offsite client meetings or touchdown spaces in smaller satellite offices to minimise travel times.

“We’re seeing landlords create their own flexible space or partner with flexible space operators to meet workforce demand and new working and living patterns,” says Duke.

As typical workdays involve various tasks from group meetings to private conversations to answering urgent emails, not all are easy to do in crowded offices where meeting rooms are in short supply. Workplaces are instead being transformed into different areas for collaboration, private work, or relaxation and furnished accordingly.

3. Coming to the office to be social

Many people like coming into the office to see their colleagues. In hybrid models, offices will be the spaces where people interact, whether in group meetings or informal chats, with more focused work done at home.

Companies are increasingly introducing spaces and amenities to encourage interaction, such as breakout coffee areas. JLL research found some 49 percent of employees are expecting social spaces to boost their experience in the office.

4. Inadequate technology just doesn’t cut the mustard

With workplaces becoming increasingly digitised with shared documents on the cloud and more communication taking place on team collaboration software, weak internet signals and geriatric hardware are going to affect productivity and frustrate time-poor employees.

With hybrid models coming into play, this also applies to equipment used at home as well as in the office – our research shows 75 percent of employees are expecting their company to support their work at home.

“Investing in technology is a non-negotiable,” says Duke.

“Companies need to have a digital-first mindset as technology will be the dominant enabler of solutions that enhance the performance and productivity of both workers and the workplace.”

5. Health and wellbeing matters

Healthy workplaces are a priority and employees expect their offices to be safe both in terms of air quality and cleanliness.

Further, companies must show how they’re supporting employees in the workplace through the amenities and services they offer, whether it’s free health check-ups, flexible work hours, or relaxation rooms.

“Now more than ever, the health and wellbeing of the workforce is paramount to business success,” says Duke.

“Meeting these expectations can not only help staff attraction but also retention.”

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