With today’s rapid rate of change, organizations of all sizes – from solopreneurs to multinational conglomerates -- are wise to address future proofing their work environments to remain competitive.
According to Collins Dictionary, “If you future-proof something, you design or change it so that it will continue to be useful or successful in the future if the situation changes.”
Yet in a dynamic business environment in which change is constant and inevitable, it can be difficult to meet the needs of a future workforce and workstyle when those needs are not yet known or understood.
The best strategy to future-proof an office setting is to embed flexibility and agility into the space solution, according to Kay Sargent, Senior Principal, Director of WorkPlace, HOK in Workplace Design.
Such a solution is built around an infrastructure that allows frequent, simple and streamlined upgrades, particularly where technology is concerned, and accommodates such changes with a minimum of time, labor and expense.
She also noted that people are more flexible than furniture and walls, so spaces that encourage movement and allow people to work in different settings at different times of the day will be more successful.
One solution is on-demand office and meeting spaces such as Davinci Virtual Offices that offer inherent flexibility and agility, providing numerous ways to future-proof a workplace.
1. Space utilization.
With real estate comprising a company’s second-largest expense after human resources, optimizing space (not necessarily reducing it) is a critical step in reducing overhead.
On-demand spaces allow users to pay for only what they need, when and where they need it, avoiding the all-too-frequent case of paying for excess space not utilized. They also easily and economically accommodate staffers who only need to be in the office on a part-time or project basis.
2. Space flexibility.
Future-proof spaces are flexible, multifunctional and adaptable, and provide multiple options for places to work, relax and recharge, socialize and collaborate. They include choices for shared and individual spaces, open and closed rooms, quiet focus areas and active group meeting rooms, respite nooks and gathering and eating spaces.
Because their facilities are designed to serve different personality types and workstyles, on-demand offices and meeting rooms typically have many choices in work settings.
Additionally, on-demand offices allow companies to easily add, reduce or reconfigure spaces to accommodate rapid growth or change when new projects arise, or other growth or contraction occurs.
3. Furniture flexibility.
A future-proof office provides a selection of furniture that can adapt to varying scenarios throughout the day or week. For example, it might be a modular system that can switch from desk to meeting tables, or a reception desk that adapts to bar service for an evening event.
Because they typically serve a wide range of customer types, and often serve a clientele for whom offices are optional, on-demand office and meeting rooms aim to be highly flexible and appealing by providing the most up-to-date furnishings, amenities, infrastructure and support.
Users of on-demand offices will also find more ergonomic furniture and the latest tools and amenities to support technology users, such as specialized seating, large monitors, footrests, monitor arms, convenient power access and hidden power connections.
4. Geographic agility
Expanding to new geographic locations is another change factor that an organization may experience in the future. Coworking spaces, day offices and meeting spaces, arranged via online booking systems, allow organizations to expand operations quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Whether it’s an international expansion or regional relocation, they require low capital expenditure.
5. Technology infrastructure
With an average lifespan of 18 months or so, technology has the shortest lifecycle in a work environment where furniture is expected to last 10 years and a building itself lasts for 50 or more years. Thus, building an infrastructure that can be easily and seamlessly updated, without disruption to the office occupiers, is critical.
For maximum workplace flexibility, infrastructure should be detached from the workforce, which makes virtual and on-demand offices an ideal alternative. Such spaces typically have the latest IT solution integrated into the space, wirelessly or with cable/wire management, facilitating connecting with new tech as it is introduced. Users can typically count on the latest power sources, which may be free-standing units, table troughs or other convenient connections.
Additionally, spaces such as DaVinci allow independents and small companies to access and afford the same high-quality technology employed by large companies such as cybersecurity, top flight technical infrastructure, fast internet speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Such services and amenitie are increasingly important to operations of all sizes.
6. The Human factor.
Future-proofing a workplace goes beyond the physical environment. It also addresses how to best plan for the human factor. Opting for an on-demand work and/or meeting space can ensure an environment that is more pleasant, productive and engaging for its occupants than a home office, coffee shop or other remote alternative. Among human-focused benefits such offices provide are:
While coffee shops, public libraries and other third spaces may provide companionship for solopreneurs and other home-based work, coworking spaces can provide community with all the amenities, security and professionalism of a formal office.
A future proof office means not only an agile workplace, but also having an agile workforce. Maintaining a lean, specialized team, comprised partly or completely of remote and/or contract workers, allows an organization to flex up or down to meet their needs.
Environments that provide for wellbeing have been proven to lead to more positive outcomes for occupants. Such spaces foster engagement and collaboration, boost productivity and encourage movement. Some other ways they contribute to improving wellbeing are by providing access to natural light, good air quality, filtered water, healthy nourishment and comfortable acoustics.
As the workforce ebbs and flows to accommodate shifting workloads, the need for various services may arise as well. On-demand offices provide a greeter to humanize the work experience for employees as well as their guests. They can also accommodate unpredictable support needs on a pay-as-you need basis.
Planning for a future-proof work environment, one that helps recruit and retain the best workers, achieve maximum productivity, foster collaboration and spur ideation and engagement, requires addressing the human experience as well as the physical setting. On-demand office and meeting spaces provide a solution to both.