In advance of the Workspace Design Talks, the show team conducted a series of content-focused spotlight sessions with conference speakers. As a result, #WorkplaceOpinion was created, featuring brief blog posts with creative insights on workplace design from the experts. Check out what Bart Canini, Managing Director at Creneau International had to say about workplace transformation and design.
How do you see workplace transformation evolving in 2023?
More fluent, flexible and hybrid layouts and spaces. Less dedicated desks but task dedicated spaces or zones. A focus on a human centric approach. Form follows humans so to say.
Brand culture being less visually in your face and more incorporated in the way of working, interacting, caring for your stakeholders. Culture will become culture in the actual sense of the word.
More hospitality and residential inspired and oriented spaces making people feel at ease and welcome.
More extra services to relieve employers’ personal lives and reassure a good work life balance.
More attention for the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. This can be in the food offer, the way we work; less sitting, more standing and moving, more physical and mental health initiatives.
Supporting the personal development of employers, in this vuca world people need to be resilient and be able to continuously adapt. This asks for specific training and education but also for personal development.
After the COVID initiated trend to work from home we believe that there will be a counter movement. People will start to miss the interactions and all things positive that office life has to bring.
How are companies using workplace design to attract and retain talent?
Gone with the office cages! Offices are adapting hospitality in their design and mindset thus becoming stimulating places instead of mind numbing prisons. Feeling more at home at the office will become standard.
What lessons do you think workplaces can learn from hospitality and residential design?
A lot! Where office spaces were previously a ‘form follows function’ environment we now start to realize that our ‘form’ if she wants to follow ‘function’ first of all needs to follow human needs. These needs are a sense of belonging and feeling respected. Hence the importance of creating hospitable and homey environments. Employers who respect their employees provide them with an environment that shows respect and gives them a sense of belonging. This will prosper growth. After all our environment shapes who we are, how we feel and how we interact. This fact has been neglected for too long especially in the context of the workplace. (also read; Welcome to your world, how the build environment shapes our lives. and The architecture of happiness )
How do you see flexibility being implemented in offices to maximize the use of real estate and improve the employee experience?
Flexibility will be more important not only to serve different types of work but also because the capacity of offices will be more volatile than ever before. This flexibility will be translated into less dedicated desks. Technology now makes this completely possible. The sense of belonging and claiming a space as your own, with one’s own memorabilia will of course be lost but this will be made up for by creating offices that feel more like home and welcoming. Flexibility will also mean that a space will not always be dedicated to one company, we see more collaborations between multiple companies or even a blurring of lines between for example retail, hospitality and offices.
How have you been using sustainable products and implementing sustainable designs in their offices?
When possible this is done. First of all we try to reuse items from the previous office or from urban mining initiatives, second we try to design and construct in such a way that there is less waste or make it easier to deconstruct with salvage in mind. Third, we try to use materials that are sustainable. If possible we also try to work with partners that rent their products or where one can pay per use. This forces the suppliers to create more sustainable products. All this however asks for a different methodology when designing. Whereas aesthetics were king we now see aest-ethics becoming more and more prominent. This results in designers working differently; Starting your design with sourcing what can be reused is a completely different way of working and interacting with the client. This modus operandi takes more time. Furthermore the outcome is less predictable and depends on the materials present. This asks for a reeducation of the client who is used to know in advance exactly how the newly designed office will look like. A complete mindshift is necessary for this new way of designing.
How can technology be included as part of the workplace design to facilitate an enjoyable experience in the office?
All technology should be a means and never a goal, we often see the opposite. The future is seamless and invisible technology that makes (office) life easier. The less visible technology is the better it ofte is. Good technology for example is an online meeting system that works seamlessly across all platforms, with perfect sound, image and connection. How often have online meetings been a disaster just because of technology not doing what it should do. Smart office management systems managing air, climate, and light can have a tremendous influence on the wellbeing of a buildings’ inhabitants. Technology is also used to optimize a building’s efficiency resulting in a more environmentally friendly way of working.
What measures should designers and employers be taking to promote employee wellbeing?
Focus on work life balance; being flexible in work hours, work place. Adding services that make life beyond the office easier thus obtaining more focus during office hours. Promote health by organizing or stimulating initiatives of this kind.
Designing a space that nourishes an overall sense of wellbeing. This begins by a thorough study to determine the ideal flow, the kind of spaces needed according to the kind of interactions the work demands and it ends by a friendly and hospitable environment. We now see a rise in biophilic design principles which when executed well can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of employees.
How can we design our workplaces to support neurodiversity?
By creating an array of different workplaces from intimate and quiet to open and collaborative. However design is just a minor aspect in supporting neurodiversity. Company culture and modus operandi of a company are as important.
What kind of designs are you working on to nurture innovative and collaborative mindsets in offices?
Combining functionalities; an office restaurant that stays vacant for more than 80% of the time has been used to create flexible meeting and work spaces resulting in the company not needing to ad a new building.
Creating hyperflexible layouts according to the needs of the teams working and the number of people working.
Incorporating warm materials and design cues from the hospitality sector to create a warm and hospitable office.
Removing the usual visual brand and motivational clutter and translating these same brand values in ways of working and material choices.
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