We always enjoy speaking to industry experts to find out all about what’s going on in their sector. In this interview, we caught up with Tobi and Fran over at Making Moves to ask about upcoming workplace trends, terrible office habits, and whether free beer at work is a good idea.
Tobi: I would say that attitudes have already changed from taking a more practical approach to health and safety to a more psychological approach to health and wellbeing.
In terms of office design, trends have changed in that we used to have three separate rooms for a kitchen, a breakout space (think lino floors) and a boardroom. Now, offices are becoming much more open plan with “Town Hall spaces” encompassing all of these aspects. For example, bleacher-style seating in an open office layout means that offices can use this space for socialising, having big team meetings, smaller coffee meetings, holding external events, and relaxing and eating lunch during the day.
Offices are definitely getting smaller. There is less need for people to work in the office, just for the sake of being there. Offices need to cater for a variety of purposes – meeting, collaborating, socialising, networking, individual work, coffee catch ups etc. Offices are becoming more like a “members club” or a hub with everything under one roof.
Fran: In terms of health and wellness trends at work, I think 2019 is the year where things will become less gimmicky. I think companies will realise that implementing something for the sake of it won’t actually make a difference, and companies will need to pay more attention to their staff and implement something that will help them personally work better. It’s definitely not a one size fits all approach and I think businesses are beginning to realise this. I think the use of technology and data will play a big part in this.
Tobi: I would agree and say that companies are using technology to optimise their space more than ever before. Companies are analysing their space using heat maps to see which parts of the office are used heavily, and which areas are becoming redundant. This helps to decide where furniture and features are best placed in the space.
It’s interesting that, in a way, the use of data to track employees’ movement has almost come full circle to when people used to clock in and out of work.
Tobi: Interesting question. I would say that the majority of our clients say that this is the biggest challenge with creating a culture. They end up buying into the WeWork culture rather than their own. My advice would be that it’s a good way to grow your team, not a good way to grow your culture.
Fran: Also, in a time of convenience where we can pretty much order anything from our phones, flexible space saves a lot of time and resources for companies especially in terms of admin and operations. For example, organising a cleaner, ordering in tea and coffee, sorting out utility bills. Even though they might be compromising on creating a personalised culture in terms of the physical space, they may have more time or money to invest in other ways to improve their culture.
Fran: I would say that having free unlimited beer available at all times is not a good idea. It encourages unhealthy drinking habits and I think people will drink more just because it’s there and they don’t have to pay for it. On the other hand, having free team drinks on a Friday or a different night during the week is a good idea, because it’s social and fun. As long as there’s a non-alcoholic drink available too!
Tobi: People are drinking less. We can see in London with trends such as Swingers and Flight Club, that people are becoming more inclined to go out and do an activity, maybe having a drink, maybe not. The point is that drinking is not the main event. It’s important to be inclusive and not just advertise the free beer as being the main attraction for a team get-together.
Tobi: People eating fish in the office and general office hygiene – especially sneezing and not covering your mouth. These are two pet hates for me.
Fran: I would say arguments over temperature is the most annoying thing. Although this is nearly impossible to solve. And I’m almost permanently cold.
Fran: As I said before, I think the use of data, personalisation and optimisation will be a big trend this year. Something that is important to one person or company may be insignificant for another. There’s no point implementing something for the sake of it.
Therefore, there’s no specific thing that every company can do to improve their workspace. I would say listening to your employees is the best thing a company can do.
Thank you to Fran and Tobi at Making Moves – this interview has given a real insight into how offices and workspaces are changing and evolving. It’s particularly interesting to see how the use of data capture and smart technology extends to the workplace and how this can be used to improve employee experience and wellbeing.