Guest blog by Drew Carter and Anna Grayhek, IIDA at H. Hendy Associates.

“I am the CXO, but I’ll put you in touch with our Director of Influencer Campaigns.”

What we do for work and how that work gets done is fundamentally changing. In response, many organizations are scrambling for solutions or guidance. This is reflected in the many office environments that have left behind traditional offices and cubicles in favor of open plans, outfitted with features meant to boost interaction and engagement. Yet, because of a vacuum of guidance and knowledge, many of today’s businesses are merely chasing the latest trends. Innovations such as sit-stand desks, docking stations, wireless displays, ideation technology and teaming areas have already made their way into the office, but their potential impact to the workforce is not well understood.

With competition to attract and retain talent only adding to the pressure, savvy employers will take a new approach to the design and function of their work environments in ways that take advantage of human capacity and better manage the consumption of resources.

Here are transformations forward-thinking companies are adopting.

Everything as a service. One huge market and cultural shift is the move toward “subscription over ownership.” For many, accessibility is more desirable than ownership because it offers much higher flexibility and far fewer long-term or high-cost obligations. This appeal is reflected in the explosive growth of pay-per-use models for software, equipment, skill sets, and even facilities, as large enterprises and free-agents alike take advantage of on-demand space that flexes with both quantities and types of work settings needed.

Human-centered design.  Many offices today share the same general design as the first office spaces of the 1800’s. Yet, this design is based on old paradigms, including tools and resources that are nearly obsolete. They do not reflect how technology and the nature of work has changed, or what we have learned about human and organizational performance.

In the 1950’s, a concerted effort began to design environments that made quantifiable improvements to work by harnessing human potential. It turns out to be pretty simple: create environments that focus on well-being and interactions that advance communication and make our workforces much more effective.

The data-driven workplace.  Nearly everything we touch leaves a trace in the digital world.  Algorithms and machine-learning technologies are able to reveal patterns and predictions based on activity, providing actionable insights that make everyone in an organization more effective. For workers, relationships and interactions become more dynamic and meaningful because technology can anticipate needs and manage locations, resources, time zones, and availability far better than we can. Organizations leveraging these technologies will translate these advantages into performance, cost reduction, and innovation.

BYOD: Business technologies are also evolving away from prescribed, dedicated, proprietary systems and empowering their employees to use their preferred devices and software. These shifts increase productivity as employees utilize systems they know, prefer and are more agile as they can be effective from anywhere on just about any device. This has also shown to reduce downtime and is consistent with the trend toward divesting from owning infrastructure. Some organizations also redirect the maintenance/support headcount to roles that are focused on advancing what people can do.

High-performing organizations will improve their effectiveness, innovation and profitability by leveraging workplace design expertise to bring together organizational psychology, architecture, technology, and human wellness to create environments that are a clear contributor to the organizational mission and accomplishments.

Anna Grayhek, IIDA
Drew Carter

Drew Carter is currents studio director and Anna Grayhek, IIDA is workplace strategist at H. Hendy Associates.