Traditionally, the strategy, design and delivery of workplace has been focused squarely on the CBD, with an emphasis on creating enticing spaces to lure in employees with all the comforts of home.
But, as Unispace’s Global Design Director Simon Pole points out, a rethink of that approach is long overdue. Writing in the ‘Workplace Progress’ issue of Indesign, he says it's time for organizations to set their sights on truly hybrid, flexible spaces that evolve with businesses over time.
“Diversity goes beyond people and culture – it extends to physical space. This diversity of space is a key ingredient to spurring new ideas, innovations and creative problem-solving, helping people feel comfortable, productive and part of the team.”
Historically, he says, we have forced these diverse spaces into the CBD, ignoring the local social networks and opportunities for connection that we have at home. But through the pandemic, employees have discovered a new way of working that embeds them in their local communities, making daily commutes seem an unnecessary burden. At the same time, many businesses are reconsidering their real estate portfolios and looking for more creative solutions than they have in the past.
“There is a definite opportunity to engage and reestablish social networks in a way that can benefit the traditional CBD HQ," says Pole.
“We’ve been relying on the corporate headquarters to provide networking and social opportunities, which is great for the corporate culture, however, an even stronger culture will flourish with diverse opinions, ideas, innovations from local neighborhoods, communities and suburbs – empowering us to connect, influence and generate new ideas.”
There’s no question that the pandemic has disrupted workplaces globally. With many employees now working from home at least part-time, it’s clear that the office experience must evolve.
But far from rendering office design irrelevant, this paradigm shift makes creative thinking even more crucial, says Pole.
“It’s actually a huge opportunity for office design thinking to evolve. It’s our job as designers to use our unique insights to bring those new ideas to life for our clients – and maybe it’s something we should’ve been doing much sooner.”
You can read Simon’s Indesign article in full here.
Simon Pole is Unispace’s Global Design Director, with over 20 years’ experience leading exceptional and complex projects throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Simon is passionate about the science behind workplace efficiencies and leveraging great design to enhance the working environment.