Savills News

Offices of the future - more than a trend, a reality

By Joana Rodrigues – Architecture Department Director

Organizations pursuing innovation and best practices in managing their human capital recognize that one of the greatest challenges of today is retaining and leveraging talent. We all are the mechanism that allows companies to grow, adapt, develop and innovate. In an era in which the human being is increasingly demanded creativity, it is essential that the work space is inspiring and helps us be more agile, efficient and productive.

Nowadays, we still find spaces that lack adaptation to the needs of the occupants and the needs towards an evolutionary process of the company. The abusive use of open space areas, lacking private areas that counteract this reality, very small kitchen areas, few meeting rooms, result in a natural obstruction to the overall performance of a work team.

The good news is that there is also a desire to create spaces that are examples of good practices in the work environment that should be used according to the needs of each organization and its employees. No two projects are the same, and not all trends fall within all companies, and it is extremely important that future goals are carefully defined and adaptation is based on the new organization and practices to be adopted, before moving forward to any process of change.

An office should not only be a workspace, but a reflection of the company’s strategic vision and values. As a complement, you must provide your employees with an experience, a collaborative spirit and the best balance between work and personal life. Employees are increasingly seeking vibrant, urban, liveable and accessible environments, where ideally all these aspects can be fulfilled in an optimal way.

These issues are closely related to the new theories and trends regarding future work spaces, which are increasingly a reality, and lead companies to invest on the optimization of the physical working environment. The offices of the future end up becoming places of greater socio-professional interaction that enable the exchange of knowledge and experiences. They represent an evolution, in the sense of creating positive work relations and stimulating the employees, having as final goal the offer of conditions that directly influence the performance and the commitment in a certain job or task.

An effective change to a new space or its renewal should be based on five pillars: Flexibility, spaces with added value that allow not only an activity, but also access to the work tools necessary for its tasks, even outside the space of work (hot desk); Interaction, more transparent spaces allowing communication and cooperation between employees (more open space, fewer offices); Sustainability, carefully analysing space efficiency and based on the highest international standards (LEED and BREEAM certification); Health and Welfare and Quality of Life, stimulating the practice of exercise and improving eating habits, avoiding stress, reducing absenteeism, among others (WELL certification).

The office of the future presents itself as a space that is highly adapted to current requirements, but endowed with a perspective that combines environments and infrastructures, in which each material, decorative element or space is thought singularly but always as an integral part of a whole. The activity of the company must also be considered, in order to promote the specific efficiency and productivity of that area, not neglecting the election of materials and equipment that not only raise creativity but also promote focus, as well as the interaction between employees that promotes the enrichment of the projects and tasks they execute. Also the inclusion of natural green elements promotes biofilm, increasingly prominent, helping in the need of the human being to be in contact with nature and exerting a positive influence on his physical and mental balance.

In short, a space of quality is based mainly on a detailed programmatic analysis, aiming at a clear optimization of the resources used. The qualitative factors in an office are represented in the creativity and originality of the space, as well as in the careful selection of materials, in the most appropriate technologies and also in the control and reduction of costs through monitoring of consumption and optimization systems.

Technologies could not in any way stay out of this equation. Digital transformation is dictating much of the change in office space, as it provides new concepts and gives us complete freedom to innovate. For example, today we can work anywhere in the office due to the use of laptops and Wi-Fi networks, transforming a lounge area an informal meeting area maintaining the speed efficiency of the computer, thus allowing a more fluid and effective internal communication and flexibility.

Collaborative technologies are increasingly in demand, as organizations deal with a growing movement of people within their structures, eventually adopting the concept of home-office as well. There are currently a number of tools available, but it is necessary to deepen knowledge in the most complex systems and that still has a considerable margin of progression. 

This technological issue leads us to another question that is related to the interaction between different generations in the same workplace. Younger employees generally tend to adapt more easily to concepts and technologies. However, we notice that more mature generations are more open to new concepts and innovation that is required of us today. The fact that work spaces increasingly resemble the cosy atmosphere of our homes is a strong argument for widespread acceptance.

Regardless of the generational issue, there are always people who are more reluctant to change and harder to please, which is ultimately a matter of mentality. There are projects where top management wants to change and employees are more afraid, and others where it is precisely the opposite. Usually, the companies that are more closely involved with technologies, internet and start-ups are highly receptive, which does not mean that we are watching more and more companies with greater institutional weight in their benchmarking that want to evolve and innovative spaces, fresh design and minimalist lines.

Savills Portugal is part of a group at a global scale. This position allows us to have the clear perception that Portugal is taking very constant steps with the other countries in Europe. When in an international scenario, we find that we develop the same concepts, we have the same concerns and similar objectives. The Portuguese business fabric is undoubtedly attentive and enthusiastic about the future. We are still a country that is open to innovation and has creative capacity at work and that easily allows us to adapt to the demands of the future business modus operandi.

Savills Architecture Department is composed of architects, civil engineers, budget and construction coordinators. We have occasional partnerships with other external teams of engineering, inspection and technology consulting. We are part of a multidisciplinary team with different skills in real estate consulting, which completes our team and makes us specialists with a vast portfolio of solutions and alternatives to be developed, taking into account the specific requirements of each client.

We are not satisfied by just following trends, but we seek to create them and be part of a core that motivates innovation and change. We keep a watchful eye on new concepts, products and materials that may interest our clients and take our clients’ experience to the next level. We are deeply aware of the great changes that have been taking place in the concept of “work space”, since the organic business is not apart from human evolution; on the contrary, it is constantly changing and adapting, their business fabric is increasingly multicultural, understanding that each department/ function has unique and specific requirements to consider.

Precisely because we recognize that each project is unique, we establish a close relationship and communication with our clients through the anticipation of their needs, through the constant and open sharing of ideas and solutions and the proposal of alternatives, in order to exceed their expectations.

The workplace is undergoing major transformations and the speed at which everything changes makes it imperative to change scenarios very quickly. Nowadays, nothing is forever and the only way we have to get around the issue is to keep ourselves constantly informed, attentive and to have this awareness when designing a workspace. This is the only way we can follow the market and leave our mark in the pursuit of the Work-Life Balance binomial.

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