Making Offices More Human: Workplace of the Future Forum Europe

September 27, 2017


Does your workplace take a human approach to design?

Consider this:

  • Nearly three quarters of workers prefer to be in a social office environment, according to a Gensler workplace survey.
  • 92% of staff rate individual, focused work as important, says the Leesman Index.
  • But only 57% of staff say “my workplace enables me to work productively,” according to the same Index.

The need to make offices more personal and productive was the primary focus of the inaugural Workplace of the Future Forum (WOTFF) Europe, sponsored by EMS. The event, held earlier this month at the London offices of UBS, included dozens of leading banks, law firms, consultancies, and other enterprises. These leaders gathered to discuss how balancing enriched spaces with the efficient use of resources could help create vibrant and productive work environments.

The Office of the Future

The office environment is rapidly changing. The model of a bland sea of cubicles surrounded by private offices and underutilized meeting rooms is fast becoming obsolete, replaced by an environment in which hot desking, office hoteling, and flexible workspaces are on the rise. Organizations are embracing what is commonly called the ‘Workplace of the Future,’ and that future is already here.

Look no further than London to see why these trends are on the rise. With London office space among the most expensive in the world, at nearly £1,350 per square metre, unused, underutilized, and poorly designed workspaces are leading to wasted money and a decline in worker productivity. Companies at WOTFF Europe discussed these and other challenges throughout the day.

Creating More Productive Workspaces

At the forum, David Watts, Managing Director of CCD Design & Ergonomics, presented four critical themes for better workspaces:

  1. Design for individuals, not a one-size-fits all. Everyone has different working styles and goals, and office designs that accommodate these differences will be the most successful. When you let introverts be introverts and extroverts be extroverts, employees are bound to find more job satisfaction.
  2. Value enriched spaces over lean spaces. Watts presented the results of a study that showed the enriched office – one in which employees have control over and can personalize their own office space – led to a 15% gain in productivity.
  3. Give individuals control over their working environments. It can be stressful for employees to walk into an office and not know how their day will be structured, as is often the case with first-come, first-serve desk management common in early adopters of agile workplaces. An empowered office that allows employees to control their schedule and environment adds another 15% gain in productivity.
  4. Utilize co-creation and participatory design methods. Not surprisingly, employees who are more involved in workspace design collaboration are more likely to be engaged in their work. Perhaps what is surprising is that nearly a third of people say this design affects their decision whether to work for a company.

The UBS Offices at 5 Broadgate, London

After the thought leader presentation, attendees got to see these design best practices firsthand. Sung Won Lee and the fantastic team at UBS gave forum attendees a tour of the UBS offices, where spaces have been tailored to promote a rich working environment.

For a trader who needs to track data on multiple monitors, the workspace is set up to accommodate more computer screens. And a banker who needs to work late? The convenient food and drink area can make those long hours even more productive. As one attendee summed up the experience: “I still get goose bumps speaking about the UBS building. Excellent afternoon.”

A Panel of Leaders

The formal activities for the forum wrapped up with a panel featuring those at the forefront of modern office design:

  • Christopher Higgins, Commercial Analytics Director for Worldwide Real Estate & Facilities at GSK
  • Antonella Sergio, Global Workplace Service Development Associate Manager at Accenture
  • Jenny Arnold, Senior Project Manager at Sidley Austin LLP
  • Rob Bullough, Head of Real Estate & Workspace (UK, Europe N/E, MEA) at UBS

Whether using digital room signs or allowing remote collaboration, these organizations have transitioned from traditional, one-size-fits-all workspaces to more modern, productive environments. They are empowering their employees to work, collaborate, and focus in the ways that suit them best.

Workplace of the Future Forum Europe in 2018
Based on the positive feedback from our attendees, EMS Software will continue sponsoring these events with a focus on bringing together like-minded individuals who can learn from and inspire each other. These forums will also help EMS to understand how we can support workplace initiatives with future releases of the EMS scheduling platform.

If you are interested in attending one of our upcoming Workplace of the Future Forums, or if you would like more information about our London event, please contact us directly.