Organisations have been warned not to put too high a premium on the future role of the office as a collaboration space.
Speaking at an Assurity Consulting event, Allison English, deputy CEO of Leesman, warned attendees to be wary of an over-reliance on the future office as a space for collaboration when data suggested that most employees do not in fact have highly collaborative roles.
“A lot of organisations are saying that the office of the future is all about collaboration, and that we want to do away or at least reduce our number of individual desks and focus on collaboration. But what we've seen in our data is that, actually, only 5 per cent of roles are highly collaborative.”
If just one in twenty office workers are in highly collaborative roles, should the provision of collaborative office space be the primary driver for office provision in 2022?
“Most employees don't have highly collaborative roles,” explained English. “They're not going to come into the office and spend an eight-hour day collaborating. So what organisations have to be thinking about is the mix of spaces available to employees, making sure that they understand what employees coming into the office need, and that there's a balance [to be struck] for that.”
English used her company’s survey data to paint a picture of an evolving world where employee demand is changing.
Organisations need to be thinking about the mix of spaces they make available, said English. But more than this, they need to be careful about apportioning any ‘hybrid’ mix of worker requirement by department.
Considering one client with a portfolio of more than 10 buildings, English pointed to user data indicating that each property had a marginal yet potentially significant difference in user expectation. Profiling the hybrid working requirements by building as much, if not more than workers’ department, is “hugely critical”.
What’s more, starting from the perspective of each building’s users and their different demands requires changes to the balance of facilities service and infrastructure support on a building by building basis.
The future office opportunity, concluded English, “is in sharing knowledge, collaboration, informal unplanned meetings, etc”. But the key takeaway is that no future plan for occupation can be based on a standard extrapolation of requirements when the pandemic has entirely changed individuals’ personal drivers of productivity.
”This is the tip of the iceberg. Now the hard work begins. Blanket policies and strategies are not an option.”