‘Workplace design’ has become far more important than ‘building design’ due to massive changes in the way people work. The more these interdependencies between building systems, building design and occupant needs are understood, the more changes can be made to the building. This type of ongoing optimisation in workplace design reduces building maintenance, boosts staff engagement and increases the ‘rentability’ of the building.
Many workers don’t have a defined desk or level to go to, and many people work remotely. The mobile workforce, coupled with the changing ways that people work, has led to us designing and constructing buildings that are vastly different from the buildings of a few decades ago. People’s expectations are changing and so must our buildings.
With the correct collection of data, we can demystify the design process by designing and building on facts rather than experience. Instead of focusing on conventional business drivers and environmental imperatives, the spotlight needs to be shifted to the results of post-occupancy research in building design, answering questions such as: What building functions do we really use? How do we use them? Is it making our jobs more efficient?
We asked people what they wanted Buildings of the Future to be like. Watch this video to hear their thoughts.
This shift will require a deep understanding of the drivers of buildings of the future, namely:
Employees value mobility, flexibility and remote connectivity to work, which means that businesses need to invest in collaborative technologies, cloud computing solutions and even virtual and augmented reality. The actual office designs need to support agile working, with everything from standing meeting rooms and couches to gathering areas and creative spaces.
Employees’ social contexts will need to be supported by their work environments (consider how many businesses already have crèches at their offices). The way that people choose to live and work will continue to change in the future. Changes in transportation, such as car drones and autonomous vehicles, will lead to changes in how building design needs to accommodate these technologies.
The rapid rise of the shared economy will also play a role in buildings of the future. Tenants will increasingly start to question whether they really need a large amount of space all the time. Companies like Airbnb and Uber are set to become mainstream in the property industry as well, with many small businesses already sharing offices. This concept will continue to evolve and we may see changes such as smaller tenancies or services and spaces being shared between companies.
Buildings of the future will support shared infrastructure and services, and result in better utilisation between companies, tenants and individuals. Instead of having many different spaces for separate businesses, people and tasks, spaces will become increasingly flexible to support different tasks and needs.
Attracting and retaining top talent means investing in a physical environment that can match the innovative spirit, enthusiasm, lifestyle needs and creativity of the people that a business employs.
The ability to respond to human needs: Analytics and sensor technology can track how, when, and where people move throughout the building and these insights can be used to optimise everything from the indoor temperature and acoustics to natural lighting. Responding to human needs leads to a healthier workforce, with less absenteeism and more engaged workers.
Millennials especially want to work in buildings that are reducing their impact on the environment. A future ready building not only benefits the environment, but it also creates the right perception of value that influences the talent a business attracts as well as the rental returns that the building can generate.
On top of this, it supports corporate strategy elements such as collaboration, innovation and social responsibility. No building operates in isolation though. Buildings of the future will need to integrate with the broader community. Smart buildings within a smart precinct will be the focus. In future, innovative city management will form an alliance with major developers to drive smart precincts, and will require the right data, people movement monitoring and legislative frameworks.