Most organizations will likely adopt blend working. Companies will therefore need to re-think their work environments and building owners need to rethink what amenities their tenants require.
More collaboration spaces and focus spaces
The office will primarily become a space for people to collaborate and interact. It will also be a space where you can work in quiet with access to required resources - a private library in a way, eliminating distractions from your family pet, emails, TV, etc.
Today’s open spaces where people across various functions sit and work close to each other will most likely get phased out. Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber recent, recently published a study in the Harvard Business Review, where they found that “face-to-face interactions dropped by roughly 70% after two fortune 500 firms transitioned to open offices, while electronic interactions increased to compensate”. In a different study for a major technology company from 2008 to 2012, they found “that remote workers communicated nearly 80% less about their assignments than co-located team members did; in 17% of projects they didn’t communicate at all. Their conclusion? “If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.”
“Happy staff, happy company” has never sounded more relevant. After all, an organization’s most valuable assets are its employees. How employees work and contribute to the everyday tasks at hand is what makes one company more successful than the other.
According to Gallup, two major factors influence employee performance: engagement and well-being. Low employee well-being typically leads to poor physical and mental health, which leads to lower employee engagement, higher turnover, poorer customer service and higher healthcare costs, which finally translates into eroding profits.
Increasingly, organizations are changing their corporate culture to be centered around their employees by putting in place well-being and engagement programs. The well-being programs include many elements, such as providing flex hours, and fitness and mental health support programs.
One of these programs focuses on a healthy workspace environment. What is a healthy workspace environment? Well, there are many factors that need to come together to create it.
Some features under the program are mandated, such as higher standards for water quality, as well as advanced lighting design that alters with daily circadian rhythms. There are many optional initiatives, from sound masking for better acoustics to supplying basic bike tools for commuting cyclists.
In their Harvard Business Report article, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber recent discuss GlaxoSmithKline wanting a new office format that would optimize performance. The company started a pilot called the workplace performance hub where they experimented in the space with the help of architects and behavioral scientists. Using everything from wearable devices and sensors to traditional performance-management systems, they tracked steps, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, lung function, posture, well-being, collaboration, and performance. The data was used to tweak all aspects of the space from lighting, temperature, aroma, air quality, acoustic masking, ergonomics, and design to see how these controllable parameters would meet their employees’ needs.
This type of approach can be expensive. However, once you have identified the right formula, you can replicate across all spaces within the organization. This is approach is no different than how retailers and the hospitality industry manipulate sight, smell, and sound to trigger purchase behavior in consumers and brand loyalty in travelers.
Using your connected lighting system as part of a well-being design
How can lighting help with the well-being of an office? Let’s go back to the Canadian Bank’s new re-fit floor in downtown Toronto.
The architectural firm responsible for the project had selected Cooper Lighting Solutions’ connected lighting system, for its ability to meet the WELL lighting elements as well as the other elements defined by the standard; notably thermal control and sound features.
The selected luminaires satisfied the visual requirements for a high-quality light for healthy space such as no signs of flicker as well as high color rendering index.
Meanwhile, the integrated lighting control system satisfied the circadian requirements of individuals by providing the ability to create personalized lighting environments to improve an individual’s productivity, mood and well-being. Using an app on their mobile phones or a web browser, employees can customize their immediate lighting environment by adjusting the luminaires’ intensity and color temperature.