Workplace - disrupted

02 May 2019  |  Worktech  |  Productivity  |  Innovation  |  Design

As members of Worktech Academy, we have access to the latest thinking and insight on the workplace. At a time of unprecedented change in the world of work and the workplace, we are pleased to share with you the key trends impacting our everyday lives at work:

Agile working

With an ever-increasing move away from traditional, static office layouts, the future of the agile workplace is elastic.

With technology enabling us to work anywhere in and beyond the office building, 2018 saw the continuation of a shift away from static, traditional office layouts. Activity-based approaches in which employees can choose from a menu of available work settings have been accompanied by a move towards permeable workspace organised around key relationships. Here, employees are located based on who they need to work most closely with – this might be team clusters or by practice area to facilitate co-learning and development. 2019 and beyond will see a further shift towards what could be described as the elastic workplace. Driven by advances in machine learning and data, this sees the idea of activity-based work extend beyond the confines of the workplace, with workers moving across a variety of locations according to changing needs and preferences. This will result in a new form of personalisation – not at the desk, but across a seamlessly integrated network with employees empowered to reshape their working life according to need.


Coworking’s corporate fightback will see more property developers enter the market for flexible space. The latter has been established as an increasingly important aspect of corporate real estate portfolios, and recent years have seen developers partnering with coworking companies to ensure that coworking is part of their overall service offering. Building coworking hubs in commercial spaces is a way to add value and attract a wider range of tenants; it also creates the potential for using less attractive areas such as those close to the ground floor, or smaller spaces left over by large corporate clients. As coworking proves its potential for profitability and growth, 2019 will see real estate developers increasingly diversifying their offer to include in-house coworking rather than leasing space out to coworking providers. This will introduce a service and hospitality element which has not traditionally been the remit of real estate providers, suggesting that new partnerships and hybrid forms will emerge in response.


From helpful objects to hyper-connected, furniture is taking the next leap to join the Internet of Things revolution. There are now more IoT devices than people on the planet - of these devices, 26 billion are predicted to be connected to smart furniture by 2024 – this is the new reality of hyper-connectivity. Not only will a workplace app secure your spot in the carpark, grant you access into the building, know your coffee order and book your meeting rooms, it will now know your seating preferences. Sensors connected to the cloud are already being used to respond to individual desk preferences and collect data on employee activity; 2019 will see that trend continue. From improving the employee experience on a personalised level to collecting data on employee activity in the office, connected furniture will be integrated into smart offices to create holistic, connected experiences for the workforce. Tables and chairs just got a bit more complicated…

Office as a Service

The consumerisation of workplace continues apace, with a shift from office-as-a-service to everything-as-a-service.

In 2019 and beyond, we will see a shift from office-as-a-service to everything-as a-service. Thanks to consumer services such as Netflix or Uber, people are accustomed to personalised experiences and instant gratification in day-to-day life. However, this rarely follows through into the workplace.  Organisational infrastructures often fall short of the speed, accuracy and personalisation of popular consumer services. Workplace services and infrastructures typically provide everyone with the same experience. Everything-as-a-service will see employees increasingly empowered to bypass corporate provision, with an allowance to work where and how they want. This extends beyond personal electronics (e.g. BYOD, Bring Your Own Device) to include online services, access to space outside traditional corporate buildings, and a wide range of benefits and wellness options. For organisations, this allows them to focus resources in the areas that are most important to their workforce. Empowering employees to work to their own rhythms and needs through a service-centric approach has been linked to increased levels of happiness and productivity at work.


Raising productivity remains elusive in many industrial-era workplaces, but we continue to see a gamification of the process with the influence of digital dashboards.

Many organisations continue to define productivity entirely in terms that belong to the industrial era. Hard metrics for performance such as output, profit and hours spent at work are surprisingly resistant to change - but 2019 is set to see a subtle shift in the way that staff are measured on productivity. New styles of leadership in the digital information era are looking at softer factors such as intrinsic motivation, with greater emphasis on employee engagement, satisfaction, communication and praise – giving people a greater sense of purpose through empowerment. New technology is set to have a growing influence here. As companies gather more performance data on what their people are doing and display that information on digital dashboards, Microsoft and others are beginning to demonstrate ways in which productivity is set to be gamified. Could industrial-era productivity metrics finally be supplanted?

Well Buildings

The collision between real estate and wellbeing will get a second wind in 2019 as the health sector grows and landlords take up the challenge.

The health and wellbeing industry has dominated workplace culture, design and policies in recent times. This year it will pull corporate real estate into its orbit in full force. As wellbeing makes its way to be the next trillion-dollar industry, expectations about buildings and what they should provide are rising. The onus is no longer just on an occupier to provide a healthy user experience; the responsibility has extended to landlords, building investors and service providers. The relative market penetration of well building standards such as WELL and Fitwell is still relatively small, but they will see a surge in 2019 as landlords consider how to deliver building experiences which cater to the wellbeing expectations of occupiers.

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