How to prepare now for the workplace of the future
In the last 18 months, the “workplace of the future” has accelerated faster than we could have imagined. No longer are we...
The future of work in Australia is being shaped by various trends and forces in the current world of work.
A meaningful conversation is taking place globally on how to make the future of work more adaptable for future disruptions. A customized work environment that supports innovation, creativity, and employee health has become an expectation. Companies must continuously consider "what's next?" for their workplace to thrive in this evolution.
In this article, we'll delve into the key trends shaping the future of work in Australia and explore how individuals and organisations can navigate this dynamic landscape.
Macro trends and forces in the new world of work are shaping the future of work in Australia.
The way people work and the places they work at are always changing. Companies have to deal with new challenges every day in order to create a strong company culture, encourage collaboration, hire new talented people, and grow their business.
Australia stands at the precipice of a transformative era in the world of work. The confluence of technological advancements, changing demographics, and global events has ushered in a paradigm shift, challenging traditional notions of work, and reshaping the landscape of employment.
As a result, meaningful discussions are taking place in workplaces worldwide about what the future of work will be like. And how can the future of work be more adaptable given the inevitability of further disruption?
A customised work environment which supports innovation, collaboration, creativity and employee health is now an expectation. Companies need to consider ‘what’s next?’ continually for their workplaces to flourish in this evolution.
A workplace strategy is not one-size-fits-all. We must design the future workplace to accommodate multiple generations and promote collaboration among people from diverse age groups and cultural backgrounds.
In addition, a successful strategy will consider various working styles and provide flexibility to employees, allowing them to work in the most productive manner for them.
The future workforce includes both innovative new talent with fresh ideas and different work approaches, as well as the existing working generations who bring a wealth of experience to the table. This is an impressive knowledge base, and smart workplace design will tap into the magic of bringing unique individuals together into a dynamic and diverse workforce.
Let’s dive into what work processes we’ve seen in the past and where the future will lead us. There are four primary ways of working we see across workplaces:
Activity Based Working (ABW)
This working style allows employees to choose from a variety of spaces according to the nature of the work they're undertaking. First seen in the early 1980s, ABW is customised to suit individual organisations and is empowered by choice.
The agile working methodology emerged in the 1990s and early 2000s. It focuses on using modular and project-based workspaces that can be easily transformed using flexible furniture and materials.
Open-plan / Hot desking:
This working style has been around since the 1940s but gained popularity in the 1990s. Lately, open-plan offices have received significant criticism for compromising employee focus, but at Axiom, our attention is on the type of fit-out best suited to your organisation, not whether open-plan is good or bad.
Although only established in the last decade, the idea of flexible working has been around since the 1970s. Flexible working is defined as leaving behind the traditional, rigid 9-to-5, five-day week structure. The flexible working model encourages diversity and inclusion, helping to future-proof and strengthen organisations.
The office designed today needs to meet the needs of the workforce of tomorrow. In the future, as remote workers become a significant and permanent part of the workforce, workplace designs will incorporate more virtual spaces.
While coming together in an office may be more productive and positive for certain roles and tasks, it may not always be practical or feasible.. So as physical attendance at meetings will no longer be guaranteed, seamless virtual connections in more spaces will become a requirement.
Due to the increased demand for virtual collaboration, workplaces require adaptable spaces that can be configured to accommodate both physical and virtual interactions.
The future of work and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are often discussed together because AI is significantly changing how we work and shaping the workplaces of tomorrow.
AI can greatly influence workspace design and usage. Some of the applications we’re expecting:
Tools like these hold the key to making more efficient use of space and potentially reducing space requirements over time.
In the workplace itself, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of work in Australia. As automation technologies advance, routine tasks are increasingly being handled by AI, allowing human workers to focus on higher-order thinking, creativity, and complex problem-solving. In fields ranging from finance to healthcare and manufacturing, AI is streamlining processes, enhancing efficiency, and contributing to unparalleled levels of productivity. However, the widespread adoption of AI also presents challenges, such as the potential displacement of certain job roles.
To harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its societal impacts, Australia will need to invest in AI education and training programs, ensuring that the workforce is equipped with the skills necessary to collaborate with and manage AI systems effectively. Collaborative efforts between industry, government, and educational institutions will be crucial in shaping a future where AI is a tool for augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them.
The integration of AI into the Australian workforce is not just a technological shift but a transformative opportunity to redefine job roles, foster innovation, and drive economic growth in the years to come.
With dispersed teams, long-term remote working situations and the use of AI, the future of work is asking us to rethink how we build company culture, how we track productivity and what growth will look like.
Here are some of the issues workplaces are currently facing:
Millennials are facing challenges due to a lack of in-person mentoring and regular feedback on their work, unlike older generations who feel more secure in their roles and are accustomed to working outside the office.
New employees are grappling with onboarding outside of a physical workspace.
Employees at the beginning of their careers missing out on incidental learning opportunities as they are isolated by working from home.
Poor acoustics in physical spaces designed for in-person meetings causing an inferior experience in virtual meetings.
The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, accelerating the adoption of remote work across industries. Many Australian businesses quickly adapted to remote work, and this trend is likely to continue. Companies are recognizing the benefits of flexible arrangements, such as improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and access to a broader talent pool. The future of work in Australia will likely be characterized by a hybrid model, where employees have the flexibility to work both in-office and remotely.
And while things may appear rosy right now (less commuting and greater productivity!), as remote working continues into the long term, we’ll see further impacts arise.
The future workspace will require more virtual spaces where employees physically in the office can easily connect with dispersed remote colleagues. At the moment, these spaces take advantage of video conferencing technology, but 3D telepresence (hologram) will likely make an impact down the line.
The concept of a four-day work week is gaining traction in discussions about the future of work in Australia. This innovative approach challenges the traditional Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five model and places emphasis on productivity over the number of hours spent at the workplace. Proponents argue that a compressed work schedule not only boosts employee morale and well-being but also enhances overall productivity. With technological advancements enabling remote work and flexible schedules, a four-day work week is seen as a way to afford employees more time for personal pursuits, family, and leisure.
Advocates believe that this shift can lead to improved work-life balance, reduced burnout, and increased employee satisfaction. As Australian businesses explore ways to adapt to the evolving landscape of work, the four-day work week stands out as a promising avenue for fostering a healthier and more motivated workforce.
While challenges and adjustments may accompany such a transition, the potential benefits in terms of employee engagement and retention suggest that the four-day work week could become a cornerstone of the future Australian workplace.
Collaboration and teamwork
Although collaboration doesn't have to happen face-to-face for it to be successful, it is almost always easier to encourage powerful co-creation when people are in the same physical space. Although not ideal, the reality is that the need for virtual collaboration is only growing. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive make it possible for dispersed teams to come together and work with one another virtually.
Employee engagement and company culture
Remote employees can often feel left out of team lunches, water cooler chats and casual office banter, and that's because they are! With more and more employees working from home, companies need to be conscious of these feelings and ensure ALL employees are being engaged and feel a part of the team. A remote workforce doesn't have to be a disconnected one. Technology has made it feasible to communicate, collaborate, and lead from any place but it does take intention and thoughtfulness to make it work.
Virtual employees and staff using mobile devices is a challenge which will become further pronounced. Protecting sensitive data with proper cybersecurity is crucial. Keeping information secure online isn't just the realm of the IT department; all employees need education in data security measures
Some key trends are influencing what the office of the future will look like:
The greener the better
We're not just talking more indoor plants, but some serious green sustainability credentials too. There is a growing trend towards creating high-quality working environments that prioritise sustainability, benefiting both businesses and the environment. This approach also helps attract top talent from the eco-conscious younger generations.
Personalisation and flexibility
Activity-Based Working will continue to play an important role in workplace design. Offices will be designed to foster employees' intellectual processes and working preferences - catering for and enhancing people's working lives. Workspaces will provide different environments for different phases of work and also include virtual spaces where remote employees can collaborate with those on-site.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
A workplace strategy strengthens your business’s overarching strategy and goals. By combining the two from the very start, you can guarantee they remain aligned through upheavals like office relocations, refurbishments, outside disruptions and for business as usual too.
Effective workplace design is based on solid data and insights into how people work. It aims to create a workplace that aligns with the company's purpose, goals, and strategy, enabling growth and adaptation as the business evolves over time.
Commercial leasing may mean that a company needs to lock into a space for the next ten years, but that doesn’t mean the company needs to lock themselves into a particular way of using that space. A smart workplace strategy should allow for adaptation of the use of space over time, even as unforeseen changes come to fruition over the next decade.
How can it impact more than just your office design?
The research and data collected as a part of workplace strategy aren’t just about a cool looking office, rather your strategy will:
Pragmatic considerations for implementing your new future of work
Are you getting excited about the future of work and ready to move forward in your workplace? There are some practical considerations that you’ll need to take into account like the lease agreement on your space.
Traditional lease terms are often not in line with how companies are working, growing and evolving today. This poses a problem if you’re looking to shift to more remote working, an agile working environment or any of the other future of work trends. However, options like subletting additional space or using your space differently can still align your company with the future of work.
In the future, long-term leases won’t be as common. While organisations will still find value in physically bringing employees together, most will seek greater flexibility to adjust their space needs as they evolve.
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The way we work is evolving as we speak, and the pace of change isn’t getting any slower. Now is the time for your company to embrace the future of work and plan how your workplace can facilitate a strong company culture, promote productive collaboration, attract top talent and be prepared for change and growth.
But you don’t have to go it alone. A workplace design partner will help you with designing a futureproof workplace that helps you achieve key business objectives. Book a complimentary consultation with us today, simply fill out the form below.
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