Workplace design is finally adapting to human needs, rather than the other way round. So, how do you make a great office environment?
One of the most striking developments in the corporate world over the past few decades is the extent to which human resources departments have emerged from their back office status, becoming more akin to drivers of value than simple cost centres.
The change is partly a response to shifting perceptions of productivity. Traditionally defined as the cost of producing revenue, productivity is increasingly seen as the cost to a company to produce long term value that differentiates it from direct competitors.
In this view, higher employee costs can be accommodated as long as whatever is causing that expense (investment in management excellence, better quality output) enables the company to consistently outflank the opposition.
Employee wellbeing becomes a top priority in the new paradigm. Not just because wellbeing ensures workers stay with a company, but because it actually helps them become better, more professional and more innovative workers.
But how to achieve it? There are the gyms and the bike racks, there are the canteens stocked with fresh food, and there are the well-trained managers.
But there is also, and possibly most crucially, the well-designed office space.