Normality will return beyond 2021 and this year should be one in which the sector experiments with new concepts in the workplace, delegates at the Workplace Futures conference heard this week.
Dr Marie Puybaraud, global head of research at JLL Corporate Solutions, told hundreds of attendees to the online event that “as much as possible, we want to look at 2021 as an opportunity to experiment and to pilot new concepts before we actually think about implementing a final concept and physically creating the future of work”.
She said: “There are numbers of things and ROI, which are important to take into account when we think about the future of work.”
Dr Puybaraud identifies three drivers around this and the first is the “worker-centric world”. She said: “We need to pay attention to the notion of experience and performance. I think last year, the large-scale experimentation around working from home gave us an opportunity to test at scale, and the impact of work from home, and also test how robust our system is to support remote working. And we actually demonstrated it is possible, we demonstrated it without it having too much impact on the level of performance of the workforce... Therefore, in time of crisis, we have not seen any significant impact on productivity.”
She identified the second driver as "digital and sustainability enablement".
"Now, we all know how much we rely today on a very robust digital platform to enable the future of work because the future of work is going to be hybrid. It's going to actually require higher capabilities around our technology infrastructure, on one hand, to support remote working, but on the other hand, also to operationalise the future of work and making sure that we can drive more dynamic occupancy planning in the way we operate in our facilities. But 2020 was also a big wake-up call around the topic of sustainability and responsibility. And we are seeing from our clients that they want to use this opportunity to bring sustainability to the top of their agenda. And while they have to move towards new working environments, they also want to address the topic of sustainability."
Dr Puybaraud identified the last driver as health and wellness. “We are going to have to cope with the impact of Covid on the workforce and the impact on mental health,” she said.
“All of these are really coming together to help us shape what the future of work is going to be about" and one of the key ways for businesses to deal with them is to pay a lot of attention to "understanding what are the workforce preferences," she concluded.