Workplace designers need to pay attention to changing workplace trends, inclusion, diversity and change expert Charlotte Sweeney warned delegates at a conference earlier this month.
Speaking at the Working Trends London conference, Sweeney said that in five years’ time 36% of the working population will be over the age of 50 and for the first time there will be five generations in the workplace at the same time. She added that 15% of people in the workplace have a disability, though only 1% tell their employer about it, and one in seven will also have eldercare responsibilities.
“The world of work is changing and that impacts the way we design workplaces,” she said. “Organisations have jumped on the bandwagon of sustainable workplaces, reducing employee travel and creating attractive workplaces, but what about inclusive workplaces?”
Sweeney said the presence of different generations in the workplace throws up new challenges, with some preferring formal structures and others keen on informality and collaboration.
She said it is important for property services to work with IT and HR professionals to deliver the kind of workspaces needed in today’s society. Offices such as Barclays’ 1 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf offer restaurants, childcare facilities, multi-faith rooms, gyms and wellbeing centres, she said. “Effectively creating a mini-society in the office.”
Sweeney challenged designers to consider how they can support the delivery of agile working, “where someone can go to any office, any floor, any desk and not be on the phone to IT for 10 hours”.
She added that helping remote workers feel part of the culture of an organisation is also a challenge. “We need to create space where people really want to be and work, space where they can collaborate and seamlessly link work and life together, but also [enable them to] work wherever they want and still feel connected to their organisation and colleagues.”
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