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Cultural Change Through Workspace Innovation

Cultural Change Through Workspace Innovation

Once perceived as the central fixture of a successful workplace, the office cubicle is fast becoming an endangered species. In the last few years, a new focus on innovation, collaboration and connectivity has seen businesses rethink their approach to workspace design.

What do workers want?

The case for swapping rigid workspaces for a spacious, open-plan fitout is far from theoretical. In April 2013, What Workers Want, a study conducted by the British Council for Offices (BCO), found that 60 percent of office workers believed a non-traditional workspace improved their productivity. A 2012 survey by US staffing firm Mom Corps also found that 45 percent of respondents would sacrifice a portion of their salary in return for more flexibility at work.

For Kai Schindlmayr, staff outcomes such as productivity and loyalty are only part of the equation. The regional leader for Strategic Corporate Services at Savills Australia says workspace innovation can spark opportunities for business transformation and encourage companies to design a work environment that’s receptive to change.

“Your office is an architectural manifestation of work and a physical enablement of workplace culture,” he explains. “An investment in your workspace should be treated the same way as an investment in technology, which has increased exponentially over the last few years. At the start of the property search process, businesses have the opportunity to treat workspaces as part of a long-term strategy and take a holistic approach.”

Workspace innovation

Although Australian giants such as Macquarie Bank and CBA are reimagining traditional corporate headquarters by embracing activity-based working, a set-up that favours hot desks and collaborative hubs over workstations and meeting rooms, Schindlmayr says it’s critical to consider whether or not your business culture supports workspace innovation. He says slavishly following workplace trends without asking difficult questions about your business imperatives might result in wasted investment and long-term risk.

“People have been debating open-plan offices for 50 years – it’s by no means something new. And I think that sometimes a style of working – such as collaborative working – can be cast as positive as there’s more opportunity for staff members to share ideas and they’re better supported. However, the first question that businesses should ask themselves is exactly why they need to be innovative, whether the workplace culture currently supports innovation and what steps they need to take to make it a reality.”

It’s equally important to use tools such as employee surveys and interviews to engage staff in this process and ensure workspace innovation is in line with their needs, says Schindlmayr.

“There’s no point spending millions rebranding and investing in a new office without interviewing staff about their current experiences as well as brand values. If you’re in a highly structured environment, which happens to work very well, and you suddenly switch to a new style of working, you will most likely fail. The vast majority of workers in this world just want to work and work comfortably – workspace design influences their decision, but so do other factors such as remuneration and opportunities for work life balance. It’s important to align all these issues and make people part of the process.”

So how should business approach the issue?

The question is how should businesses interested in taking the plunge design a workspace that addresses culture while making room for innovation and growth? Schindlmayr recommends treating it as an ongoing process rather than a quick fix, and making sure you have support structures and systems in place to assess whether the transformation is having the right impact.

“Businesses should create a clear brief about what an ideal workspace should look like – whether you need a building with a café or a type of co-working space. You’ll then need a workspace strategy that will help you select your property and finalise design. But it’s important to engage a professional change manager who will help you transform aspects of your culture and reinforce why you’re making the changes. And finally, it’s critical to conduct ongoing checks post occupancy to ensure continued improvement and refinement, and always make sure your design is flexible enough to adapt to future growth.”

About the Blog

The team at Savills are experts in their respective fields, with extensive experience backed by 150 years of Savills industry knowledge. This makes us well placed to provide you with the most informed view of current trends as well as helpful guides and top tips across the commercial and residential property sectors.

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    Connect with our team

    Connect with the Savills team on LinkedIn.

    Connect with our team

    Savills on Twitter

    Follow us on Twitter

    If you have any comments or questions regarding the Savills blog just drop us a line.

    Email the Editor
    and retain tenants
  • 7 ways to improve the connectivity and performance of a team working remotely
  • Where there’s nature, there’s well-being and productivity in the workplace
  • -->

    Connect with our team

    Connect with the Savills team on LinkedIn.

    Connect with our team

    Savills on Twitter

    Follow us on Twitter

    If you have any comments or questions regarding the Savills blog just drop us a line.

    Email the Editor
    and retain tenants
  • 7 ways to improve the connectivity and performance of a team working remotely
  • Where there’s nature, there’s well-being and productivity in the workplace
  • -->

    Connect with our team

    Connect with the Savills team on LinkedIn.

    Connect with our team

    Savills on Twitter

    Follow us on Twitter

    If you have any comments or questions regarding the Savills blog just drop us a line.

    Email the Editor