The workplace reimagined. How workplace transformation will help businesses thrive in the new.

Digital Perspectives

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July 05, 2018
The workplace reimagined. How workplace transformation will help businesses thrive in the new.
By: William Brouwer

The workplace is now a competitive differentiator. It helps business leaders secure and retain the best talent, increase productivity and reduce overheads. The best workplaces drive innovation by enhancing collaboration and helping to create a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce.

At Accenture, we believe ideal workplaces are those that prioritise the employee’s needs. Here, the employee sits at the centre of design, with workspaces created around their requirements and suited to their specific roles. Yet these workspaces are agile too, and able to rapidly adapt to changing business requirements. Welcome the workplace of the new.

Leaders willing to take the next leap forward rotating to the new must go through a complete end-to-end workplace transformation journey. A key part of this shift is to stop thinking of workplace optimisation only in terms of cost reduction and to instead see it as an opportunity to optimise workforce productivity and engagement.

According to Rachel Gutter, president of the International WELL Building Institute ™(IWBI™),“The war for talent and productivity begins with the workplace. We’re starting to see evidence gathered by educational and research institutions, as well as from data gathered inside buildings, on the benefits to both employees and companies that start with the building and expand to new ways of working and healthier lifestyles."

However, working in the new is no ‘quick win’ process. Organisations looking to thrive must embark on a continuous journey, along with their employees, to transform their existing portfolio into one that will enable employees to collaborate better, feel better and work better. For success in workplace portfolio transformation, the following four factors cannot be neglected:

1. Experience design
As discussed, workplace design should focus on the needs and wants of specific occupants. These will, of course, be different to every office and facility; so, it’s important to run an experience design project across all operations. This project should comprise ethnographic studies as well as gathering data from employees at all levels and functions. Through this process, businesses can understand their current workplace experience, map the desired future workplace experience, and chart the gaps between the two. A successful experience design project will include employee journey mapping and will outline the digital services and physical space features required.

2. Frictionless digital services
Digital technologies can unlock seamless employee experiences that increase productivity. For example, smart digital apps can reduce the time it takes to conduct simple workplace tasks such as booking a meeting room, adjusting the temperature or lighting, ordering catering, etc. The most pressing pain points in workplace processes will have been identified during the experience mapping sessions. To enable more seamless workplace services, the right digital platform is essential. The platform will need to be flexible so new features can be added or adapted as needs arise over time. Such an approach also allows for the incremental rollout of new workplace digital services.

3. Digitally retrofitting legacy systems
Something like 80% of the building stock we’ll use in 2050 has already been built. Real estate portfolio transformation will therefore have to focus largely on upgrading existing buildings. The ability to digitally retrofit provides a non-intrusive way to quickly uplift such buildings. One example of a digital retrofit is integrating a legacy heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with a digital platform. Using advanced data analytics capabilities, the digital platform can optimise HVAC systems to increase employee comfort and wellbeing while optimising energy spend.

4. Wellness strategies
We spend 90% of our time indoors, so it goes without saying that our indoor environment plays a key role in shaping our health and wellbeing – and often for the worse. Thankfully, new certification programs, such as the WELL Building Standard™, provide a comprehensive framework to design spaces that elevate human health and wellness. A holistic framework, WELL includes 10 concepts exploring themes such as air, water, materials, community and light to name a few. Recent surveys of WELL projects point to positive early feedback. CBRE Madrid reported that 80% of employees believed their new office enabled them to be more productive, and Symantec reported that 77% of employees feel the space fosters more collaboration and socialization, a 28% increase over their views toward the previous space.

Digital technology has transformed business online. Today, along with design-led thinking and changing perceptions towards what the workplace should be, it’s also helping enhance physical working environments. If you want to ensure you are well placed to secure tomorrow’s talent, then it’s time to update your workplace.

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