The Human Side Of The Workplace and The Digital Evolution
It’s about people. When discussing the workplace, the evolution of the way we work and how we’re adapting to meet the needs of the workforce, no truer words apply. This rapid shift in the facilities and workplace evolution can seem like it’s all about technology, or profits, or keeping up with the war on talent – and while those things are prevelant – the main focus always is and always will be serving the needs of the people. Kay Sargent and Mark Eltringham, two experts on both people and the workplace, share their thoughts.
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Kay Sargent | senior principal and director of HOK’s WorkPlace and co-founder of Workplace Evolutionaries
“If we are truly designing for people then the better question that we should be asking is who is the worker of the future? And understanding that is really critical because how can you design a space for people if you don’t know who’s going to be in it?”
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Mark Eltringham | Author and Publisher of Workplace Insight
“I think what we’re seeing at the moment is a crystallization of all the things they were talking about 25 years ago. And in particular the fact that the workplace is no longer just physical, so you have a cultural and a digital space as well.”
As an author, speaker and publisher of the acclaimed, Workplace Insight, the UK’s most widely read publication dedicated to the design and management of workplaces, Mark truly understands the human side of facilities management, and why serving the needs of the people should be the highest priority for each individual workplace.
Mark covers how the scramble to create activity-based working spaces or open-office plans is fine, as long as it is proven to be the best environment for the individuals working within it. He mentioned that employees now have “many alternatives in the way they work” and a workplace manager’s job to make “the physical option the best space” can be challenging. While trends will come and go, adopting specific design elements because they’re popular or rejecting others from fear of change won’t help anyone. Being flexible and adaptable is part of the job.
Another point that Mark makes during our chat is that the main purpose of buildings, offices and workplaces isn’t changing, it still is inherently about serving the people within them. And while even some larger firms like LinkedIn haven’t fully adopted the free desk model, that’s okay. Our job as facilities leaders is to craft structures and spaces that fit the needs of our specific workforce, and that may vary across the board.