Home away from home

Home away from home

Office – Workplace March 2018

Smarter solutions

Of all the industry buzz words floating around the office workplace sector, “choice” is the one that seems to carry the most weight.

From studies that confirm that millennials – those born between 1980 and 1996 – are defined by a lack of attachment to institutions and traditions and therefore change their jobs more often than other generations, through to claims that office-based businesses need to provide a range of physical work options to keep staff engaged – choice is King.

It can all be very confusing for business owners looking to take productivity to new levels while keeping everyone within their business happy. Balancing a desire by some to have remote working options, with an intrinsic need to have collaborative face-to-face opportunities to ensure that the company culture is nurtured – it’s a tough ask.

Some of the world’s most disruptive businesses – that is, those that are changing perceptions, breaking new ground and leading the charge where technology is concerned – are also challenging the dynamics of work space and turning the traditional office environment on its head.

Dropbox, Google, Airbnb, and Facebook – for example – are blurring the lines between home and work in more ways than one.

In Sydney, file hosting company Dropbox has taken the concept of the Australian home as the starting point for their office. Their investment in what is dubbed “social capital” is making it an aspirational place for millennials to work.

The largely-open plan design embraces dining and living zones, a bar/kitchen area where catered meals are provided for everyone, an indoor garden space that mimics the outdoors, and funky, yet comfortable, furniture throughout.

The design allows for every possible form of work fundamentals from sole-focus project work, one-on-one meeting space, communal/collaborative spaces, and social get-togethers – all designed to create a home for staff. (They do fall short of having beds, though…)

It’s structured in such a way that employees have choice – in how and where they want to work through the day, and how they engage before and after work. If their tasks change, then their place of work can change.

Also in Sydney, Airbnb’s corporate office was designed to reflect the hospitality aspects of its core business.

Each meeting room resembles the interior of a quintessential Airbnb listing – as inspired by actual properties available internationally on its website.

Standard modern-day office equipment has been carefully integrated into a residential-looking space without it looking out of place, with functionality taking high priority. It can’t just be quirky – it needs to work for the employees.

Walking into those offices, you could easily think you were checking into an Airbnb home. Hospitable, inviting, relaxing, homely – not words you’d normally associate with a work environment.

Is this just pandering the perceived needs and wants of the (largely) millennial generation? Perhaps, but then if companies want to retain and attract that demographic, then adaptive work places may be the way to do it.

A place of work is becoming a home-away-from-home. For all employees, it’s about creating a sense of community, of valuing the needs of the work force, of creating an environment that is conducive to strong outputs – and providing choice.

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