The workplace is no longer just a place to work, and the contemporary workplace needs to be designed as a place that contributes to people’s wellbeing – to productivity, efficiency, sociability, wellness, sense of community, ability to collaborate… the list goes on.
On 29 August, Architecture Media hosted its 2017 Workplace/Worklife forum as part of the Design Speaks program. It was held at the Eternity Place in Darlinghurst, Sydney, and I had the pleasure of attending and presenting.
The forum consisted of four keynote speakers and three case studies. The keynotes – Roberto Bannura, director at Steven Holl Architects (China); Eric Parry, founder and principal at Eric Parry Architects (UK); Caroline Burns, director at Workplace Revolution (Singapore); and Robbie Robertson, partner in experience design at Deloitte Digital (Sydney) – addressed current and future workplace trends related to architecture, design, technology and work styles. Their presentations were inspiring, and it was fascinating to hear these prominent thought leaders’ different perspectives on the future of the workplace.
Providing case study examples of how these trends are playing out in Australian workplace design, Tom Owens, studio director at Gensler (Sydney), discussed the home-away-from-home design concept at Dropbox Sydney; Kim Vella, head of premises and procurement at Clayton Utz (Sydney) spoke about the opportunities and challenges of office layouts; and I spoke about TomMarkHenry’s non-traditional approach to the design and fit out of WeWork’s co-working spaces in Martin Place and Pyrmont.
My presentation detailed how we created a workplace that doesn’t look or feel like a typical office space, and by doing so provides users with more than just a place to work. The space fosters a community where people can collaborate, innovate and socialize, which is certainly the way of the future as we spend more and more time at work. Many of the keynote speakers also identified co-working spaces as leading the way in workplace trends.
They also identified new technologies as key drivers of change in the workplace. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and apps for productivity and efficiency are changing the way we work and collaborate – and this is only the beginning. This prominence of augmented reality and robots in the workplace in the very near future was a key takeaway for me and reminded me how important it is to keep up with new technologies and to always have our finger on the pulse in the digital world.
There’s no doubt workplaces have evolved over time, but new and advancing technologies are now speeding up that evolution. By strategically incorporating new technologies into the workplaces, they will not only enhance and improve work practices but should also contribute to people’s well-being as we spend our time at work.