What will the office of tomorrow be like? The needs of employees are changing and businesses must change with them in order to attract the best workers. One way to do this will be combining work and leisure, experts tell CNBC.
“Employers today need to create an environment that attracts the talent and allows them to really grow and be happy there,” Tom Redmayne, director of business development for U.K. and Ireland at Wiredscore.com, told CNBC Squawk Box on Monday.
Redmayne, whose company certifies the quality of internet connectivity in office spaces, says the key ingredients for an attractive workspace include having fantastic digital infrastructure, leisure and retail opportunities, and the ability to balance work and home life.
“Now you’re accessible (to clients) 24/7 and clients expect you to come back to them the whole time, people no longer accept a working environment that’s a stale, undynamic place. They want to be able to interact and have something that’s akin to what they have in their personal lives.”
These desires are not limited to young people just starting to join the workforce, according to Chris Grigg, CEO of British Land, which leases commercial property. He says the requirements of all age groups are changing and tells CNBC that people want amenities and entertainment near work, as these can help with hiring and staff retention.
“It becomes very important to have great communications and access to public transport, because as the road system becomes more crowded, people want to be able to get in and out of work more quickly, even if when they’re there, they want to do different things” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box.
Flexibility is also a key issue, according to Grigg.
“It’s the ability to change around. It’s an ability to hire people, or when the business shrinks, to do that in an effective way. People want more open space. People want more collaborative space and probably cram people in a bit more to create that.”
In some cases, businesses are moving towards a virtual office structure, with employees working at home or remotely, using their connected digital devices. In 2016 in the U.K., the number of people regularly working from home increased 7.7 percent to 1.639 million, according to Work Wise U.K.
Yet while digital devices and virtual office tools will drive efficiencies and helps employees work harder, Redmayne says we’ll always need a physical office for work.
“I think the serendipitous interactions you get through actually working with colleagues in your business and also with your partners make such a difference and I think we’ll always need an office to drive those sorts of interactions,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday.
One company offering a more innovative office space is WeWork, an American company found in 2010 which owns shared office spaces in cities around the work. The company’s stated goal is to create “beautiful, collaborative, physical spaces” for workers and says it has more than 130,000 members.
The company organizes events to encourage members to meet each other and also offers an app so that members can connect and work virtually with others from around the world.
“WeWork members from different industries and walks of life help each other’s businesses thrive by sharing advice, business ideas, and even services,” Eugen Miropolski, managing director of WeWork, Europe and Israel, tells CNBC via email.
“We provide access to business critical services as well as lifestyle benefits, and have even launched Creator Awards in the U.K., our programme to give away $20 million to anyone with a great idea by the end of the year, in order to further our support for creators and small businesses.”
The future of work – what will the office of tomorrow look like?