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The 8 workplace trends driven by a diverse workforce
David Anderson
24th May 2019

Gaining a deep understanding of our client’s cultural DNA is central to our creative process. It is our responsibility to deliver design that reflects this core essence whilst providing an environment that meets the future needs of the business and their employees. We find that exploring a client’s brief though a multidisciplinary workshop ensures we consider the wider context and can be key to identifying the ‘big idea’ that will lead the design narrative.

But as designers it’s also essential that we understand the market forces and design trends that are shaping the sector, particularly one that is evolving at a pace never seen before. From the rise of the experience economy and co-working, to the impact of new technology and changing demographics, it’s never been more important to have our finger on the pulse.

David Anderson, Board Director and workplace design expert, gives us his views on the future of this rapidly evolving sector.

Board Director David Anderson, Broadway Malyan

The 5G Workforce

By 2020, Generation Z workers (those born between 1995-2010) will make up 36% of the workforce yet at the same time, with the age of retirement increasing and people living longer and healthier lives, we may now even see five generations working side by side in the workplace. This requires organisations to incorporate a broad range of areas that meet different styles of working.

When designing global publishing house Springer Nature Headquarters in London, we created a flexible environment that would enable our client to respond to an ever changing diverse workforce. The design included easily reconfigurable furniture, wireless technology, touch down desks and a variety of private and open collaborative spaces giving colleagues the choice on how they work, connect and share avoiding generation stereotyping. Teams were also able to influence the types of spaces they needed in their immediate environment - their editorial teams requested areas that provided privacy and quiet whereas their IT colleagues wanted open spaces that facilitated agile project management working.

Springer Nature interiors by Broadway Malyan

The rise of the co-working sector

No longer aimed primarily at start-ups, the co-working sector continues to gain momentum, particularly in Asia, with many large corporates now looking for flexibility in leasing office space or for cost savings. This is driving a new type of intuitive, multifunctional and easy to reconfigure workspace. The benefits are not just financial, it has been reported that 71% of co-working and flex-space users find that their workspaces positively affect the ways they engage in their work. It’s no surprise therefore that the global co-working industry is expected to expand to 5.1 million members by 2022 and that 30% of all commercial office space is projected to be consumed as ‘flexible space’ by 2030.

Live Work Play space at El Higueron by Broadway Malyan

Authenticity

The first impression of a workplace matters. Our physical environments will increasingly tell the story of an organisation with workplace design that exemplifies the values at the heart of the company and resonates with the daily lives of the local workforce. At Ascendas-Singbridge, we helped to build a brand that expressed the company’s history, mission, values and goals and which was expressed in everything from the façade of the building to the wayfinding and graphic design.

Branded interiors at Ascendas Singbridge by Broadway Malyan

Wellness

Designing an environment that supports employees’ emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing has proven to improve productivity, inspire better employee engagement and produce a healthy workplace culture. Wellbeing design is no longer a fad, but central to business strategy for companies of all sizes. The application of light, colour, nature, art, and activity are intrinsically linked with creating positivity and enhancing wellbeing.

A key priority for HSBC in the design of their headquarters in Singapore was to create an environment that reflected their global brand values, boosted energy and creativity levels, reduced stress and supported their environmental ethos. We designed the scheme to incorporate biophilic design by maximising natural light penetration which in turn reduced energy consumption. Live green walls and plantings provide a greater connection with nature.

We used vibrant graphic artwork and colours on walls and furnishings to create dynamic, engaging collaborative spaces whilst using natural woods and materials in areas that demanded a more calm and studious environment. The project was awarded the Green Mark Platinum rating by Singapore’s BCA for sustainable design.

Break out space in the HSBC Headquarters, Singapore, designed by Broadway Malyan

Experience focused spaces

With the demand for a greater work-life balance at the top of many of our priority lists, trends driving the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors are crossing over into commercial spaces. Our thirst for experiences, particularly amongst the millennial generation, is driving the incorporation of yoga studios, massage rooms, espresso bars, games and music areas into the workspace.

With this in mind, we created a multi-purpose Sky Office and Café where people are encouraged to eat, work and relax, within Citi’s new flagship building in Warsaw. Offering 360 degree views, the space aims to stimulate collaboration and social integration by incorporating activities such as table tennis and table football as well as different types of seating and relaxation areas. Movable walls can create ‘pop up’ meeting rooms and the top floor venue will host both business and social events and activities.

Shared food and drink area at the Citi Service Center Poland (CSC Poland), which was fitted out by Broadway Malyan

The War for Talent

With record low employment numbers, attracting and retaining talented staff is now a top priority for many companies. Many employers are making the strategic move towards lifelong learning, building a corporate culture that values training and career development to give them that all-important competitive edge.

The rapid emergence of new technologies is also having a huge impact on learning in the workplace. According the World Economic Forum, more than half the global labour force will need to start reskilling or reinventing the way they learn a living in the next five years. The need to futureproof the workforce is now, more than ever, a top priority in building a resilient, resourceful and flexible workplace.

From simple flexible spaces that can be used for informal learning, to dedicated training rooms, right through to state-of-the-art purpose-built training buildings such as BP's Upstream Learning Centre, adaptable learners are being enabled and encouraged to thrive.

Multi-sensory design

Elements of residential design are filtering into the design of commercial workspaces with the comforts we expect at home now featuring in our offices.

No longer just a white box, interior colour schemes are carefully considered to either enliven or calm spaces, with a variety of materials and textiles introduced to appeal to our sense of touch.

Kitchen and café areas, as well as toilets, are focus areas for the ‘home from home’ approach with comforts such as WeWork style music systems, softly lit mirrors and air freshening.

Acoustics are also important, particularly given that one of the biggest complaints from those working in open plan spaces is the lack of sound privacy and high levels of distraction. Furniture designers are responding with phone booths and modular pods, with quiet analogue spaces akin to libraries designed to act as ‘concentration spaces’.

Broadway Malyan's Reading studio

A data-driven future

Information on how people work and how buildings serve them will become ever more important and this data will start to shape more intelligent and bespoke design solutions. We regularly conduct thorough Post Occupancy Evaluation surveys to promote continual improvement.

As we move on, sophisticated smart buildings will reveal more about behaviour and preferences of employees than ever before and AI and wearable technology will be able to analyse and predict how people use space, for example automatically adjusting light levels and ambient conditions to suit preferences.

By using data, we will be able to show how design solutions will be measurably better.

Branded interiors at Ascendas Singbridge

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