Studio Banana is the home of design-driven transformation. They craft solutions on a wide breadth of creative projects with change-seeking organizations. Two of the areas they encompass is the work habitat of the future and self-care. Together with Key Kawamura, the Co-founding partner of Studio Banana, we discussed how the workplace will change in the upcoming period. Especially now that we are spending less time in the office, and more time at home.
“Before COVID-19, going to the office was a choice. Some employees always came to the office, others worked from home a day or two per week. Everyone has different needs. However, the Coronavirus forced us to work remotely, and forcing a situation is never a good thing. The last months have been an extreme test on our adaptability. Working from home may feel like just getting tasks done, without any social interaction or feeling part of a team. But connection and companionship are very important for the well-being of employees. These are things we took for granted, and now greatly miss. Since we’re slowly transitioning back to the office, a well-designed workplace can ensure these needs are taken care of.”
“It’s time to rethink the workplace. The office needs to turn into a vibrant, community-driven place where employees go to connect. A place where employees recharge their battery. Work can be stressful and dealing with those emotions alone at home is far from ideal. A new workplace experience is going to be essential. However, this is not the first changing experience. Experiences change all the time. The football stadium is a good example. With the arrival of digital TV suddenly everyone could watch every game from their living room. Why even bother going to the stadium? But people still went, and still do. The connection to the crowd and the quality of the experience became better and more engaging thanks, among other things, to the incorporation of media technology. The same goes for the workplace. There are a lot of new typologies of work environments popping up: from co-working spaces to neighborhood offices.”
Future workplace essentials
“Getting rid of fixed desks is one of the first steps towards the future of work. We need to find new ways to make the environment feel like a place where employees belong, but through different means. There are three ways organizations can anticipate a new way of working.
- The caring workplace. Organizations should try to create a work environment where employees feel safe and need to touch less of the equipment. Think of sensors and IoT coffee machines that do the work for you. This new workplace takes care of the hygiene of employees and participates in their holistic well-being too.
- Technology. Employees need to feel safe in the workplace. Technology can help ensure this. It can help keep a safe office capacity and give employees insights into the crowdedness in the office. If it is too busy – employees can decide to work from home or elsewhere.
- Culture. It’s no longer about the hours at the job. It’s about output. As a company and leader, you need to stop micromanaging. The most important thing is to still create a sense of inclusion and belonging, online, and offline. Rituals play a big role in this. Think of online mindfulness and virtual coffee breaks. These rituals may seem small, but they are the glue holding organizations together.”
Smart technology for a better office experience
Offices should provide employees with flexible workspaces that not only suit different needs, but also different personalities. Technology can meet these needs in many ways. It can help measure, optimize, and improve the workspace. By giving employees an active say in their physical environment, companies give their employees a sense of ownership. More about the concrete needs of employees you can find in our research paper.