Meeting the needs of the modern office worker

Adelaide office spaces require an adaptable and flexible approach in order to attract the best and brightest, says Simon Stockfeld, regional development director at Charter Hall.

The needs and wants of the Australian workforce have changed dramatically over the past decade. The way in which we do business and the expectations of employees have shifted and these changes mean that employers need to be more responsive than ever before.

It is a worldwide trend and South Australia is no different. In fact, the State should seize the opportunity to become one of the leaders in this space moving forward.

With a burgeoning advanced manufacturing industry, world-leading health and science precinct on North Terrace and innovation hubs like that of Tonsley, there is no reason why Adelaide should not also set its sights on leading the way when it comes to designing and building workplaces of the future.

South Australia is on the cusp of an exciting period with many key economic indicators trending upwards. With 27 years of experience and a team on the ground in South Australia, Charter Hall is confident about the state’s future.

With numerous new developments either underway or earmarked across the city, as well as a glut of C and D grade office stock needing urgent upgrading, it is crucial developers and businesses aim high to set the tone for workplaces that meet the needs of a modern workforce.

Today, a flexible work environment is vital to not only increase productivity but to ensure a happy and healthy workforce. Each of us likes to operate differently, so it is important to provide flexible work environments that can be tailored to an individual’s optimum performance or specific tasks. Some obvious examples of this are open plan workspaces for collaboration, quiet rooms for individual attention and technology enabled meeting rooms for workshops. It sounds simple, but these options have a dramatic affect on the way people work.

With South Australians spending more time at work than ever before it is imperative that the well-being of employees is at the centre of office building design. People should be leaving their workplace healthier than when they arrive so factors such as natural light, air quality and greenery are all staples in the next generation workplace.

The use of ‘third spaces’ is also gaining momentum because it gives employees choices of where they want to work. The ability to move around and choose a different workplace that suits someone’s needs or mood has been proven to increase productivity, which is of course an objective of any business.

Giving people alternative spaces to conduct their work means that the days of sitting at one desk all day may soon be over. This is an approach we have taken with offices across the country and the benefits to both employees and employers have been substantial.

With the workforce becoming more mobile, there is also a need to provide businesses of all sizes with integrated support to manage and monitor staff working remotely.

And what is the glue that holds together these forward-thinking ideas and new ways of doing things? Technology. There is no doubt that market-leading technology helps facilitate necessary changes in the workplace so that businesses can make smart decisions, be responsive, track resources and gain better operational foresight.

Take our flagship GPO Exchange development on Franklin Street for example. In designing this building, a flexible workspace design combined with state-of-the art technology has been at the heart of all the planning.

Artist’s depiction of the Franklin Street GPO Exchange development

While the site is steeped in history, we are creating an integrated workplace to meet the needs of the current and future workforce. This means developing a building that is smart, sustainable and adaptable so that the building and its tenant customers can adopt new technologies as they become available.

While every new development is marketed as cutting edge, what does it all really mean? Here are some examples of how technology can transform a workplace:

  • Public WiFi – Increases flexibility of working environments for staff because they do not only have to work at their desk. Workers can pick up their device and choose their environment depending on the task at hand.
  • Smart building apps – We are already tied to our phones, so let’s use them as a way to simplify daily activities such as getting in and out of the office, accessing end-of-trip facilities, locating amenities and even ordering a coffee.
  • Real-time dashboards – Live data drawn from inbuilt sensors allow businesses to track and forecast resource consumption and operations to make informed business decisions based on hard data.

I have no doubt that South Australian businesses are looking to secure and retain the best and brightest talent.

To do this, they must examine their workplace environment. Does it offer flexibility, promote well-being and embrace innovation? If the answer is no, maybe it is time for a different approach or risk being left behind.

Simon Stockfeld is regional development director at Charter Hall, the group responsible for the GPO Exchange development

Header image: Artist’s depiction of the interior of GPO Exchange

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