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As we fast approach the third decade of the twenty-first century we are seeing fundamental changes in the design of the modern workplace as building planners and designers catch up with the realities of doing business today.

It’s important to note that the role of the workplace hasn’t changed; it remains the primary space where business strategy is delivered. What has changed, however, is the way these business strategies are delivered – which requires much more adaptability, flexibility, speed and collaboration.

What’s changed?

On a physical level, in the past office buildings needed to house the extensive infrastructure required to do business; things like typing pools, filing cabinets, stationary closets and photo-copying rooms. Over time, some of this was replaced by rooms of servers, but as we move to a world where most technology is moving to the cloud, the role an office has to play, begins to look very different.

The transformative effects of technology have also significantly impacted the way that we work. With many of the more repetitive and mundane tasks now automated, and with digital transformation changing the way most organisations operate, the separate and siloed departments of old are no more. Instead they are being replaced by increasingly cross-functional teams who need to collaborate, communicate and work in a much more collegiate fashion.

But perhaps most importantly, the relationship between employees and employers has undergone a seismic shift. Technological and economic forces have by and large eradicated the concept of a 9-5 ‘job for life’ employee. We now live in a world where the ‘gig’ economy is becoming the new normal – the national average job tenure is now just three years four months[i] and an estimated 4.1 million[ii], which equates to a third of the workforce, are freelancers. Consequently, employee motivation has undergone an evolution and the criteria by which employees select their next workplace is completely different from previous decades.  When you consider, that Millennials and Generation Z are on track to soon make up the majority of workers (by 2025[iii] approximately 75 percent of global workers will be Millennials), the workplaces of 2020 must strive to reflect the needs, wants and desires of the workforce of the future.

Workplace 2020

To keep abreast with what these two growing groups are looking for, Amalgamated Property Group consulted with our tenants on their evolving needs and conducted an exhaustive audit of features and design elements that had to be included into our new flagship office development, Civic Quarter Canberra (“CQ”). Working with leading architectural firms May + Russell and with concept design by Cox Architecture, we are realising our vision for Canberra’s most vibrant and forward-thinking work-hub. We identified four key areas that should shape the workplace of tomorrow and ensured our award-winning team incorporated all these elements and features into CQ.

Flexibility: To better enable creative collaboration, physical flexibility within an office is important. As businesses and teams change over time then businesses need to be able to design custom-built workplaces that suit them as their operations evolve. This means ensuring a dynamic creative space that includes the option to create customised spaces and consider options like raised floor levels, internal stairs and the ability to create social and creative hubs; essentially being able to ‘knock down’ walls and rebuild them to suit current purpose.

Technology: For Millennials and Generation Z who are native users of mobile and evolving technology, a work environment must be both equipped with and able to support the use of a wide range of current and future innovative technological tools. This could include smart fittings for energy performance and occupancy data, enhanced ICT capability, augmented cellular and WIFI reception (including lifts, car parks and stairwells) and extends to electric car charging points in office car parks.

Lifestyle: In our always on 24/7-hour culture that digital technology has introduced, it is rare for people to work 9-5 anymore. Instead we are working irregular, long and flexible hours which is blurring the lines between home and work and necessitating a workplace that is geared up to provide a range of lifestyle amenities that the new generation of workers’ demands. For an active on the go workforce, the design of CQ includes luxurious end of trip facilities with extensive shower, laundry and locker facilities on par with those you’d expect to find at an exclusive gym, as well as concierge services to manage community engagement and the CQ Business Centre.  It can also mean aligning the aesthetics of the workplace to echo the aesthetics of outside work hangouts like stylish cafes, restaurants CQ’s lobby and common business lounge areas have been designed to reflect this.

Green Buildings: This generation of workers has also been brought up being much more environmentally aware than previous ones (and remember that the Paris Climate Accord agreement commences in 2020 and was signed in 2015 when all of Generation Y and many Millennials were at school). Issues that would have barely registered with potential workers 30 years ago can now make a material difference to potential candidates. Nearly three-quarters of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments, and this extends to the workplace and workplace practices themselves. Features like recyclable building materials, five-star energy ratings, Wellness initiatives, air indoor quality management plans, solar panels, responsible water policy, insulation and high thermal resistance glazing reduce an environmental footprint and help boost an organisation’s environmental credentials.

Winston Churchill once said that “We shape our buildings, therefore they shape us”. When it comes to the workplace, the environments we build shape both the work we create and the people we attract to work for us. Our workplaces must respond to the needs of its workers – so if you aren’t carefully considering a redesign – or move – of your workplace, now is the time to consider it.

Civic Quarter Canberra (QC) has been carefully and deliberately designed to respond to the needs of this new workforce and is attracting Canberra’s most forward-thinking businesses. Contact Colliers International on 02 6257 2121 to find out more.

[i] https://thirdsector.com.au/107966-2/

[ii] https://prwire.com.au/print/nearly-4-1-million-australians-now-freelance-new-survey-finds

[iii] http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations/%24FILE/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations.pdf