Nothing shows the radical change in how work is getting done more than the workplace. Work has been redefined from someplace we go to something we do. Innovations in technology, employee engagement and wellness in the workplace directly impact the design and function beyond the workplace of today.
Innovations in Technology
Innovation in technology is more than just new equipment, products, and services. It’s doing things in new and improved ways. Technology integration is vital for effective workplaces. Laptops and Wi-Fi give us freedom allowing us to work where and how we work best; in lounge areas, coffee shop like break rooms and outdoor patios. The “place” of the office is replaced by the “places” of the network. The workplace community is no longer dependent on a physical space. Opportunities for interacting can occur in the same room or across the globe. Even though work is no longer dependent on an office, well designed spaces support company culture and the social aspects of working.
The workplace of the future has become the platform for employee engagement, directly affecting the bottom line; $450 billion is lost every year because of disengagement. Culture and engagement is no longer just an issue for HR. According to Mike Bahr, a senior research specialist for Haworth, “Culture is the personality of a company, which contributes to its sense of order, continuity, and community.” Company culture is developed and nurtured when employees understand their role and how they fit into the larger scheme of things. Architecture, interior design, and furnishings can engage the employee with the sometimes hard to define company culture.
Wellness in the Workplace
Designers and health professionals alike have said that “sitting is the new smoking.” Their approach has changed from reactive to proactive and now leverages the workplace to improve employee health. A well-designed workplace can improve health by supporting activities that encourage more movement at work. Another important factor affecting wellness is lack of privacy. As spaces become more open and collaborative, employees cite this as their number one complaint. Privacy is a basic universal need, so fostering collaboration while balancing open and private areas is critical for employee wellness.
Technology helps employees do better work, engagement helps them be happier at work, and wellness supports their healthy choices. These trends work together to help companies increase market relevance and profitability with a highly functioning, engaged, and healthy workforce.
About the Author
Sally Chavez, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C is a senior designer for Wilsonart in Temple, Texas. She graduated from The University of Arizona (back when they had an interior design program) and began her career in Arizona. She worked in the southwest market for more than 30 years’ in commercial interiors, with a focus on healthcare, workplace and education. As a product designer for Wilsonart, she uses the skills she cultivated and the knowledge she gained to develop products that are relevant for today’s A&D market.