What we can learn from the world's best workplaces
We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and learn. This webinar was produced and recorded on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora nation. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the various lands from which the speakers and audience participated in this webinar, and we acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people watching live or viewing the recording. We pay respect to all First Nations Peoples and their Elders, past, present and emerging.
In December 2022, Axiom partnered with Tenant Talks to produce a webinar, #HarnessingNext - What we can learn from the world's best workplaces. In this webinar, four experts in workplace and the future of work explored the strategies of high-performing workplaces across the globe that can be applied to ensure your workplace remains progressive and prepared for the future.
The workplace is currently in a period of significant change & transformation. Old metrics and approaches are no longer relevant as the structure of work and priorities of employees have shifted greatly.
This time requires the acknowledgement that we don’t know what the future holds, and organisations must be curious, experimental, and humble. Workplace Researcher and Academic at University of Melbourne, Dr Agustin Chevez, is particularly excited to see that organisations are using data to measure the success of their new approaches, and this has led to changes in the way we approach workplace strategy and design.
Director of Strategy & Design at Axiom Workplaces, Garry Slater, says it is time to learn what the workplace ecosystem consists of, and to gain a better understanding of the individual functions of each workplace and each person. ‘Each organisation has nuances that should - that need - to be understood.’
Reframing the conversation
In the past, organisations have based workplace strategy on spatial usage and function. However, in this rapidly evolving environment, it has become clear that workplace experience is far more important.
Founder of Integri Group, Robert Teed, says work and place have been decoupled.
'Now we have to start thinking about workplace strategy more experientially … and place comes into question a lot later.'
Until recently, workplace design focused on creating places for people to complete tasks, but a modern workplace needs to also provide purpose and meaning to people. This is particularly important in a hybrid workforce, where a workplace is not always an office, but rather, any place someone might do their work.
CEO of WRK+, Zrinka Lovrencic, says innovation will lead to a larger pool of talent that has previously been excluded from the workforce. ‘There is a big sector of the workforce we are not tapping into because we are still not willing to think outside the box of how we design workplaces.’
What makes a high performing workplace?
Slater describes a high performing workplace as one that supports people and connection, has instinctive technology, and imbues brand and culture. He says discovering what an organisation needs to thrive requires investigation and creativity. ‘Be absolutely understanding, be very inquisitive, and experiment.’
Teed says that high performing workplaces are inclusive to all people, no matter where they are. ‘Whether they’re working in the company place or they’re working in another place, they still need to be included in the work they’re doing, included in the culture, included in the overall experience.’
Chevez suggests organisations should be experimenting with different approaches to see what works best for them. He believes organisations that ‘extract the essence of the workplace through experience, through the interpretation of place’ will become the high performing ones.
Lovrencic says increasing physical participation in the workplace will drive innovation and team building and help organisations reach their goals. ‘We definitely behave differently and live our company’s identity and values a lot better when we’re together.’
In the past we have measured workplace success with spatial metrics, such as square metres per person. To become a high performing workplace, organisations must move away from measuring space and focus more towards measuring experience. The speakers agreed that it is time to de-centre the workplace when measuring success.
Measuring engagement, culture, and human dignity will give a more complete understanding of what is enhancing and what is hindering a workplace. This will require more qualitative methodologies over quantitative methodologies that were typically used in the past. Culture surveys and employee consultation are important tools to measure these new human-centric metrics.
High performing workplaces across the globe are evolving with changing attitudes and requirements of their people. There has been a great shift to focus more on employee experience and how that can contribute to an organisation’s objectives and goals.
Now is a time for experimentation, where workplaces should be inquisitive and willing to try new ideas. However, Chevez warns that curiosity requires organisations to be humble. ‘Being curious and experimenting requires the opportunity to be wrong.’
About the experts
Since 2008, Zrinka has been helping Australian organisations be their best, across a variety of industries working with them to assess their workplace cultures and support them as they seek to transform their organisations. Zrinka curated the “Best Places to Work” list for 14 years, in her former role as the MD of Great Place to Work Australia, and now at WRK+. Zrinka is a featured speaker on workplace trends and management strategies.
Over his three-plus decades serving in corporate and industry leadership roles within the Technology, Real Estate and Financial Services sectors, Robert Teed stayed focused on the ‘workplace’ -- physical, experiential, and otherwise. He has done this as an executive and employee experience advocate for industry-shaping brands such as ServiceNow, Docusign and Polycom. Robert is the Founder & CEO of boutique firm Integri Group, LLC. His work unfolds mostly through thought-leadership and strategic advisory, leadership & executive coaching, and consulting. Robert is also the co-founder and a facilitator/instructor in the Leadership Development Cohort (LDC) for CoreNet Global - Northern California.
As an Architect and academic, Dr Agustin Chevez has dedicated his career to discover the notion of work and uncovering environments that best support our working lives. Chevez is driven to understand how work has shaped our civilization and given purpose to our very existence. His interest in the relationship between people, space and technology saw him pursue a PhD on the evolution of workplace architecture. Dr Agustin Chevez’s work has been presented at various international forums including TEDx and published in both, academic and industry publications. He has also contributed to workplace strategies for organisations in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.
Garry has enjoyed a stellar career over three decades, with an extensive track record of delivering highly successful workplace environments. He has delivered creative, original, yet pragmatic solutions to clients across many industries & sectors. Garry brings a strategic viewpoint to our design capabilities and works closely with our design team to ensure that our work truly helps our clients reach their organisational goals. In a career spanning three decades, Garry has an extensive track record of delivering highly successful workplace interiors. With a focus on leading edge intelligent design and client service, Garry creates high quality holistic design solutions that are feasible, buildable, and capture his client’s brand and values.