An amazingy 40-storey glass and timber tower full of offices and green plants will soon soar over Sydney – and for the billionaire owners, it’s all about creating a fabulous place to work.
Scott Farquhar – who along with Mike Cannon-Brookes owns Australia’s most successful software company, Atlassian – says the tower will house 4,000 workers.
“If you want to work in tech, this is the place you will want to be,” he told The Times recently.
“Buildings have to be a place where they attract your employees to come in and do their best work,” he added.
Since coronavirus gave everyone a real taste of homeworking, getting people back into the office has become a difficult prospect…
Because people certainly like working from home.
And many say they’re never going back to the office fulltime again.
So how can you persuade your staff that the office is THE place to be?
Scott told Business Insider magazine that his gorgeous tower – a key building in a regeneration of the area – will be purpose built to cater ‘for the future of work’.
He rightly says that even a highly distributed workforce still needs a place to come together.
And while not everyone can build a cool 40-storey HQ, I’m sure every workplace can become more desirable.
So here are 5 ways to tempt your people back to the workplace:
1. Make them feel safe
2. Make the space more sociable
3. Mix up building use
4. Make the transition seamless
5. Help your space to be flexible
Making your people feel safe
This is a big issue. A survey showed only 13% of UK working parents want to go back to the ‘old normal’, with fear of catching the virus a key reason.
So workplaces are reassuring their employees with measures including hand stations, socially distanced desks and extra cleaning.
Many are succeeding by utilising workplace technology in innovative new ways, using people counting with occupancy sensors to create proper social distancing of desks and in meetings.
The technology also captures details such as last cleaning times and previous occupants for a desk or room. This pulls through to the app workers use to book a safe space to work.
It helps give renewed confidence to workers who have been out of the office for months.
Prior to lockdown, many trendy workplaces had recognised that workers were spending an awful lot of time there.
They responded by adding extra ‘fun’ – table tennis tables, for instance, and even in one company a slide between floors. Some provided sleep pods for exhausted workers who needed to crash.
Today’s post-corona office will have to go further than gimmicks to beTHE place to work – no-one’s going to be there long enough to need a nap.
There are plenty of ways to lure people away from the cosy pleasures of homeworking – and they all centre on being sociable
Human beings enjoy face-to-face interactions; they are less strained and artificial than video or audio contact, and easily promote friendship, teamworking and innovation.
That’s hard to build and maintain by video link. And so is the innovative value of chance encounters where colleagues spark ideas off each other – that’s a buzz everyone appreciates.
Workplaces will need to think about how their space can offer enhanced opportunities for being sociable (with social distancing incorporated, of course).
Mixing up building use
It’s likely that homeworking will be more common than before lockdown, and organisations will be rethinking their corporate real estate footprint.
When this is added to the need to create a pleasant place to work, they’ll be taking a good look at how their office buildings can be reshaped.
Offices will transform into places to talk, to take part in an event; there’ll be shops to browse safely; even places to live – repurposing some no longer needed space as accommodation not only creates an income stream but also increases footfall.
Making every transition to the office seamless
Getting people back into the office from home now needs to be easy, given the temptation to work from the kitchen v tackling a long commute.
Enabling staff to book a tailor-made desk or meeting space via a smartphone app, then check into it and out using a QR code, removes an obstacle to getting on with the day’s work.
Helping your space to be flexible
Your available space is will need to more flexible than ever before.
Flex space is office space that can be repurposed quickly and easily to match changing requirements – for meetings, for individual workstations, for brainstorming…
But unsupported flexibility can look a lot like chaos, and that’s never efficient.
Workspace technology combines safe and responsible control with maximum space utilisation – and creates useful reports that inform sensible and responsive planning decisions as your needs continue to evolve.
Conclusion – moving into post-pandemic operations
Organisations around the world are thinking on their feet right now, making moves to balance operational necessity with wellbeing and productivity.
New offices like the Sydney tower will be built with these criteria in mind; existing workplaces are evolving as they strain to adapt.
It’s not easy, for sure, and businesses worldwide will be keeping a keen eye on each other to see what works.
In the new-look workplace, the golden prize will be giving staff the confidence to come in and enjoy the more positive – and irreplaceable – aspects of an office experience.
We may no longer be ‘at work’ long enough to need a sleep pod – but we’ll be enjoying the shorter time we spend there a whole lot more. And that’s got to be a good thing for everyone.