For bosses considering their own office fit-out, Dickens says following the crowd isn’t always the best plan.
“Research what is happening in the world of office design. Be open to all things like open plan, activity-based working and agile working, however just because others are doing things that work for their business does not mean it will work or is right for yours,” he says.
Part of the problem with trends is that we latch onto something that might work in one environment and not another.
Just because others are doing things that work for their business does not mean it will work or is right for yours.
“There are pros and cons of all working styles so understanding each is critical, but you may find that you need a hybrid model as not everyone works the same way,” Dickens says.
Whatever the approach, getting staff involved is vital.
“Your current staff will understand all the challenges and pain points but also be able to highlight opportunities that may improve the way they work … [They can suggest] technology or spaces they think may improve productivity and general cultural improvements. If people are happy and enjoy work, they work better and are more efficient,” he says.
Dickens notes there’s no point upgrading an office environment if you don’t also provide staff with the technology to work well within it.
“It just won’t work,” he says, noting that if the shift to the new environment is significant it may also need to be supported by a change management plan.
When today’s businesses upgrade an office-based environment, it’s unusual for them to skimp on video conferencing.
“It’s a must. We are seeing video conferencing in most enclosed meeting spaces but also on all mobile technologies to allow people to have 1:1 conversations, face to face, no matter where they are,” Dickens says.
While he emphases that most trends are dangerous – “just because it works for someone does not mean it works for you” – when pressed Dickens says that what’s in now in office design is collaborative technology.
“[Programs or applications] that support people locally, nationally and globally to collaborate and work together seamlessly,” he says.
Australian bosses are also becoming increasingly aware of ensuring their workplaces are healthy, but Dickens says there’s much more to workplace health and wellbeing than sit to stand desks.
“Most companies want to go further than a few plants these days. They [also] look at wellness rooms for group health activities, outdoor workspaces or terraces, encouraging social spaces and providing space for people to come together,” he says.