New workspaces require upgrade of human experience

·4 min read

FOLLOWING the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, real estate consultancy firm JLL Philippines said workspaces will need to transform to enable hybrid work.

The firm noted the rise in office vacancy was due to continuous move-outs, pre-terminations, downsizing, and softening of demand.

But despite the pandemic-induced business environment, JJL remains optimistic that the office will remain relevant, and the net impact on space usage and real estate footprint will be relatively minor.

Dr. Marie Puybaraud, JLL’s Global Head of Research, said while the current demand for office space has softened, the new purpose of the office has transformed to support the working life of employees to preserve their engagement, emotional well-being and mental health.

“More than ever, offices will now have a starring role in the future of work as they attract talent and help define and exemplify company brand and purpose,” she explained during a webinar. “The office will remain the center of the work ecosystem. A physical office reinforces culture, drives collaboration and innovation, enables professional growth and brings a company’s best to its clients and employees.”

JLL’s survey has found that many employees globally want to be given flexibility in choosing when and where they do their jobs, as working from home for an extended period makes them feel disenchanted.

Data revealed that nearly 48 percent feel under pressure and exhausted by a massive workload, and 49 percent are overwhelmed by a huge mental load.

“Employees need a minimum of three days per week of working from the office to feel engaged, empowered and fulfilled,” explained Puybaraud.

The survey further showed that if employees work from home for more than two days a week, engagement starts to taper off, and anxiety about the future can start to rise.

“There is a profound need to return to a social hub—the office will play a crucial role in driving social interaction. It is becoming a hub for collaboration, problem solving and career development,” she said.

The study also showed that only 10 percent want to work exclusively from home, 24 percent exclusively from an office, 40 percent from a third-party space (such as in a café, co-working facility), and 66 percent hybrid. Eighty-eight percent of the workforce would like more flexible working hours in the future, compared with 71 percent a year ago.

Future of work

JLL said the future of work, facilitated by technology, enables hybrid models—a flexible way of working that allows work from office, home, and anywhere.

According to Puybaraud, hybrid work has a durable presence. Most companies had already embraced mobility or flexibility ahead of the pandemic.

Hybrid models have typically been the starting point for return-to-office, ahead of local guidelines allowing for full percent capacity.

A hybrid workplace describes an organizational business model that accommodates flexibility for the workforce to be physically present in a corporate office or to work remotely (from home−or third places− all enabled by technology).

“More important than the physical place of work is the ‘future of work continuum,’” explained Puybaraud. “Hybrid requires not only physical transformation of the workplace but also a change in management strategy that is continuously adapting to new ways of working. It requires deep-rooted changes and an always-on transformation.”

Enabled by technology, the integrated future of work model allows organizations to shift and mix different solutions to ensure work productivity, a fulfilled and empowered workforce that can work from anywhere, and a real estate portfolio optimized to meet variable demand.

“Although hybrid is an appealing model, particularly for employees, it may not be suitable for all organizations and it might have to be adopted at different degrees of intensity. Notably, we must look at hybrid in the context of a future of work continuum,” she said.

According to Christophe Vicic, JLL Philippines’ country head, the hybrid work model is worker-centric.

“Enhancing the human experience can drive better performance. To truly dive transformation in the future of work — whether that is in the office, at home, or anywhere —we need technology and digital enablement with the people, the workforce at its center,” he said.

Vicic adds that one key point to having a hybrid office set up is that while meeting deadlines are crucial, employers should give more emphasis on the outcome of work rather than the amount of time it has taken an employee to accomplish a task or a project.

Puybaraud said while some organizations that want to shift to hybrid may already have the space, majority do not.

Historically, the workplace allocates majority of its area to individual spaces, but JLL said the future of office will be about collaboration and socialization.

New workplace investments will be required to enhance the human experience to support the working life of employees, and in turn, drive their performance.

Some of the top spaces to boost employee experience are for socialization (coffee/tea areas, lounges), focusing on work (concentration pods, focus rooms), connecting with nature, learning and development, creativity (innovation labs, fab labs), collaboration (project rooms), and shared community interests. (KOC)

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