We were very proud to participate in the Commonwealth Bank Property Expo this week. The Expo was held at The Bank’s headquarters at Commonwealth Bank Place where a forum panel discussion was held to discuss the workplace of the future. The forum panel discussion leaders were Natalie Slessor from Lend Lease, Megan Divett from Puzzle Partners and Neill Johanson from Davenport Campbell. We are happy to report that the discussion was lively and dynamic. The questions posed by the audience to the panel demonstrated a very high level of understanding of innovative workplace design. Given the informed nature of the conversation, we thought it might be worthwhile recording the questions and answers –
“There seems to be mixed views on whether there are different generational requirements for physical workspaces. What are your views on the differences in requirements, if any, in particular when you consider the up and coming Millennials?” There are four key things that separate the millennials from every other generational type. Their strong preference for access rather than ownership, a really strong attraction to brand and affinity with technology. They are also making smart food choices and exercising more than their immediate predecessors. Despite this I don’t believe the millennials have any particular needs that can’t be accommodated by creating a workplace that is underpinned by a range of wellbeing initiatives.
“You have each mentioned a push for Wellbeing in the workplace for both the benefit of the individual and the business (productivity, engagement, reduce abseeintism, reduce cost). If you had to limit it to 1 or 2 initiatives, what has the biggest impact in workplaces to Wellbeing?” Wellbeing can be broadly grouped into, mindfulness, nourishment and fitness, fresh air light and comfort. If I had to select one aspect of wellbeing that could have a profound impact on the life of people in the workplace I’d pick movement. Every time you move you are improving your health. When you get up and go you are usually going somewhere. Hopefully along the way you are bumping into people with whom you can share ideas, movement helps clear your mind and generally create a sense of energy within the workplace and within the individual.
“The workspace is being modified to cater for a hugely mobile workforce that engages primarily through technology versus every day human interaction. And so the sense of workplace as a physical ‘team home’ is shifting and the human scale/nature of work is also shifting. What is the role or is there a role for the workspace to build these connections? And if so, what does that look like?” The workplace has a fundament role to play in creating a strong sense of belonging and purpose. From the moment we left the cave we have worked as teams to hunt and gather food for our basic survival. Our brains have been hard wired for thousands of years to scan the terrain and make quick decisions about friend or foe, safe or unsafe and fight or flight. Our role as designers is to create workplaces that recognise these fundament traits and make places that help build social cohesion and a strong sense of community. The trick is to ensure the workplace communicates a sense of belonging and reinforces the values of an organisation so that the job of our modern day tribal elders to provide leadership and reinforce these values is made all the more easier.
“What are the building technologies or disruptive innovations that you are most excited about that will change the workplace of the future?” At this year’s Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas the main theme was “everything is connected”, yoga mats that talk to your phone and routers that can charge devices wirelessly were two stand outs. A couple of trends that caught my attention were the Qualified Self. The ability to wear and measure everything we do. The other was 3 d printers and possibilities they are capable of unlocking. 3D printers are getting bigger and using materials with structural integrity. I can see how in a few years’ time we will be able to imagine a new workplace component and then decide to test its out straight away to see if it helps make the way we work better. In China a developer has just “printed” in 3D a 10 house development in 24 hours So things are happening. The other interesting developments are in Augmented reality – Oculus Rift which makes 3D googles for gaming was just purchased by Facebook for 2 billion dollars so I can that we will be able to engage with our customers and partners in very different ways in the future.
“Are there new services that you see being offered in the future workplace as mobile technology continues to increase and the blurring between work and life continues?” Yes, The CBA’s next workplace will be at Darling Square, a development of about 25,000 sqm in size. When you realise this building could support a population the same size as a small country town such as Bourke in NSW you think why we can’t we have a dry-cleaning service, postal services, hairdressing, accountancy services, newsagency and a pie shop within the workplace. Being connected all the time is generating more and more stress in on our lives so we do need to promote a sense of wellbeing within the workplace so that it is a healthier and relaxed place to be. At Darling Square we are thinking about sugar free vending machines, juice bars, a high percentage of stand-up work points and dedicated wellbeing centre.
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