Thursday 20th June 2019

As most of us are aware, the workplace is forever evolving, and at a seemingly faster pace than ever before – technologies adapt, trends come and go, and our psychological understanding of human behaviour, and how to get the best of it at work, widens. Organisations might test ways to boost productivity and yield; some will stick, while others will be nothing more than a failed experiment.

Because of this versatile approach, it can often be difficult to navigate the unexpectedly choppy waters of the workplace, with it being a particular challenge to plan for the future. While no-one can have it all figured out, sometimes two heads (or several) are better than one!

With that in mind, Condeco has collated information from some of the world’s top business leaders, surveyed about what they’re planning for, and what they expect to be the biggest challenges to their business within the next five years. Read on for their collective thoughts!

Integrating technology into the workspace

Half (50%) of the business leaders surveyed by Condeco for the 2019/20 Workplace Report felt that integrating technology into the workplace, or rather, digitizing the space, was a significant challenge they would face within the next five years.

60% of global business leaders see Digitizing the workspace as the biggest challenge in the next five years.

Indeed, we’re seeing younger generations expect some form of a fully digitized workplace, and we’re also increasingly aware of the cost-cutting and time-saving abilities that a smart workplace can provide. While the extent that a workspace is integrated with tech will vary widely, it’s safe to say that most businesses will be reviewing their spaces sooner or later.

How exactly will the future workspace be digitized? From digital booking systems for meeting rooms and desks, to the aforementioned smart buildings that know just how you like your coffee (and can prepare it for you as soon as you swipe into the venue), expect office technology to focus on making everyone’s working lives just that bit easier.

Adapting to changing employee expectations

Like we said, younger generations have high expectations of their jobs and the space they work in, and perhaps those expectations are rubbing off on some of our older colleagues, too. Forty-four percent of business leaders surveyed by Condeco felt that adapting to changing employee expectations would be a considerable challenge within the next five years.

44% of global business leaders agree adapting to changing employee expectations is a challenge facing businesses in the next five years

This makes sense when we consider that millennials are already well-entrenched in their careers, and indeed, older millennials are now reaching more senior and managerial roles, perhaps helping influence the direction of their employer. Then there is the competitive market for hiring members of Generation Z, the eldest of whom are now university graduates. They have a lot to offer, but they also expect a lot in return (and, why shouldn’t they?).

Focus has switched from salary and benefits to workplace culture, flexibility and work/life balance. Younger people want to work in an office with comfortable and cool design, an easy way of managing their day-to-day responsibilities, and a fair amount of agility, so that they can get the balance of their personal lives just right. Many have learnt from watching their parents, and will happily forgo a higher salary for a role that allows ample time for their hobbies and relationships to flourish. Of course, Gen Z have also grown up with technology as we know it, so a tech-integrated office is completely natural to them.

Increasing costs of workspaces

Many of us are painfully aware of the current high costs of real estate, especially business real estate. Space comes at a premium, and many organisations find themselves stuck in smaller locales than they’d like, needing to expand to increase their turnover, but unable to do so. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed by Condeco felt this was likely to be a pressing issue within the next five years.

In today’s current financial climate, there is a certain level of uncertainty and anxiety surrounding business growth, and certain types of previously common businesses, such as the humble high street store, face problematic futures. Even with the shift towards online shopping, warehouse space is now more expensive than ever, and the average office faces new premiums too.

There are some simple ways to try and avert the disaster of outgrowing a space that you cannot afford to extend – desk sharing schemes can cut large portions of space, while the idea of working remotely has shown to be popular for both business leaders and their employees, with both benefiting from the concept (many people jump at the chance to work from home due to wanting to avoid long commutes or other reasons, and it can obviously reduce office space usage).

Ensuring sufficient variety of workspaces for employees

Another issue that may well be linked to the high premium on space, business leaders are also concerned about ensuring their workspaces have sufficient variety, to help engage and empower their employees. Condeco found that 30% of business leaders felt this would be a challenge within the next five years, and it’s no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to the shifting style of the workplace.

As employees demand more flexibility, and employers expect more productivity, the workplace has reached a crossroads where both can be fulfilled by the same concept – agile working. Improved agility in the workplace is a positive thing, allowing people to work in the way that’s best for them, and therefore enhancing productivity levels. However, to make this work, workspaces must boast an assortment of diverse areas; think quiet corners, collaborative spaces and informal, breakout areas.

We already know that office space is expensive, and re-designing it is even more costly. Then there is the issue of knowing what specifics are required by your own workforce – admittedly, this is easily managed with a simple survey and research into how your space is used (sensors can help). Still, it is a problem that many should be prepared to attempt to address in the coming years.

Ensuring sufficient meeting rooms to meet demand

Finally, the least substantial challenge business leaders expect to face, but perhaps the most universally recognisable one. Meetings are a much-complained about, but imperative part of all our working lives. This is partly due to the humble meeting room, and their often woefully unprepared status – 18% of business leaders told Condeco that they agree.

It might be meeting rooms that are too small, or too big, or none ever being available to staff when they’re needed, or the technology in them being old, clunky and near unusable. There are myriad ways the modern meeting room can fail to meet our stipulations, and despite them being such a crucial part of our work day, this usually remains unchanged.

Some may assume the answer is to build more meeting rooms, but that’s not always the case. Meeting rooms can often be managed far more effectively with a digital booking system, and some businesses may even benefit from an audit prior to implementing said technology, to ascertain the finer details of usage.

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