Workplace culture two years on: what's next for the office?

In April, Kitt and Techspace co-hosted a panel discussion on workplace culture two years on from the beginning of the pandemic. The panel featured workspace, design and culture experts and set out to answer one of the key questions surrounding the future of work: what’s next for the office? 

Here’s what we learned.

Adaptability of space

Businesses are now moving away from the ‘sea of desks’ and towards space that is far more adaptable to the needs of individuals. What has become clear is that people don’t want to face the commute just to sit at a desk (or worse, on Zoom) all day, and that's now factoring into office design.

The generic, one-size-fits-all version of the office is no longer enough. Business leaders now need to understand what it is they want their space to achieve and the ways that people like to work, and then create a space that addresses those needs.

Although it’s important that there are still focus areas available for people to use, the balance is shifting and businesses are beginning to offer more variety, with spaces to collaborate, host a team huddle or meet with clients, for example.

The key thing is adaptability. The office needs to be a space that can be used in a variety of ways depending on individual needs and preferences. 

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Co-creation

For many businesses trying to make hybrid work, asking employees what it is they now want from the workplace is fundamental to getting it right. Leaders are having to reimagine the office, but teams can certainly help that process.

What do your employees want and need from the space? What do they feel in-office days help facilitate? This can be done with a structured survey, or through more informal conversation with teams and individuals. Regardless, co-creating at a time in which habits and preferences are changing is so important to the success of hybrid working.

Obviously, you can’t fulfil every requirement for every person, but listening and consulting with intent will not only point you in the right direction when it comes to designing your space, but it will also garner more trust for leadership teams.

What Gen Z want from the workplace

You cannot understate the value of the office for those who have spent their final years of education (or first years of employment) in a remote setting.

It’s not just about the number of employees showing up to in-office days either – if your new joiners aren’t surrounded by the right people in their first few weeks or months then they aren’t getting the exposure to knowledge and experience that they need to develop.

Kitt’s latest report on the future of workspace revealed that over 30% of Gen Z workers think the primary role of the office is to act as a training hub, while 33% want it to be a space for networking. 

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For leaders, it’s about establishing what you believe younger members of the workforce can gain from being in the office and around other people, and making sure that everyone buys into that. 

Leading with intention and clarity

The two buzzwords of the day were intention and clarity. All panellists seemed to agree that, be it office design or workplace strategy, it’s crucial that businesses now show both in their plans moving forward.

If you’re bringing people in and you believe in the value of physical space, then you need to make sure that it’s designed with intent and you’re explaining to people why it’s important and what’s expected. Kitt’s COO, Lucy Minton, suggested that this is the biggest danger businesses face in the next few months, and that this clarity will help people decide if they’re in or they’re out.

Ultimately, the office needs to offer something that employees can’t get at home. Designing with intent is important, but planning days with intent is also crucial and it’s something that a lot of businesses aren’t doing enough.

To watch the full recording of Kitt and Teschspace’s panel event, click below.

Watch the recording