The modern office is more than just an area to house employees. Looking to the future, businesses are focusing on how to optimise the workplace to create a more efficient environment for staff to thrive — here’s how:

Becoming smarter

Commercial buildings account for 40% of the world's electricity consumption, so it’s vital that workplaces strive to be more energy efficient. Future offices may take inspiration from The Edge office building (Deloitte’s HQ office in Amsterdam), which has been dubbed the world’s most environmentally friendly office.

The Edge, Amsterdam

Image credit: Think Marketing Magazine

Staff can control the heating, lights and even the blinds from a smartphone app. The toilets flush using rainwater, and the office is flooded with natural light. The on-site gym serves two purposes: keeping employees fit and healthy, and generating energy to power the building.

Employing automation

In a recent Deloitte study, 53% of respondents reported using robotics to automate some of the manual processes in their organisation. This could relieve employees of repetitive, administrative tasks and give them more time to focus on creative or strategic work.

At a hospital in Belgium, Pepper the humanoid robot has been manning their reception desk since 2016. Pepper costs around £26,000,  less than the UK’s average annual income of £27,600 — potentially saving employers hundreds of thousands of pounds in employee wages. At The Edge, you’ll even find a robot security guard!

Implementing wearable devices

According to a recent survey, 74% of 18-34 year olds believe that their employer should be actively involved in their well-being — yet only 45% of people think that their employer plays an active role at present. In response, we’re seeing more wearable devices in the office.

In fact, nearly one in three large organisations already use wearable devices to track employees physical activity and shape their well-being strategy. Hitachi have developed an ID badge that monitors ‘employee happiness’. This data is then used to generate recommendations on how to raise satisfaction levels to management.

Creating spaces for collaboration

Environmental stimuli, such as natural lighting and meeting rooms with interactive projectors and whiteboards for collaborative projects, all help fuel the creative process — and it’s likely we’ll be seeing more of this in future, as office designs continue to prioritise creativity and collaboration. Breakout areas for cross-department, chance encounters also assist with organisation-wide communication and morale.

One-third of office workers cite a well-designed office as a factor that would influence their decision to work there. Not only will creating the right office layout improve your current employees’ performance, but could help attract new talent too.

Embracing flexibility

How and where we work is changing. Currently, 58% of workers are offered flexible working and it’s predicted that half of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020. Embracing flexible and remote working  has been shown to improve productivity, efficiency and reduce sick days.

For working from the office, hot-desking is becoming more prominent. Two-thirds of multinational companies have committed to become shared-desk workplaces by 2020. Working with different people on a day-to-day basis helps to build relationships across the wider business, improving communication and giving people more opportunity to learn from others with different skill-sets.

By embracing technology and the shift to a more flexible workforce, organisations could see an improvement in employee well-being, productivity and morale. Thinking strategically about your office environment can also help attract top talent to ranks, further improving the output of your business.