• Transform magazine
  • February 29, 2024


Insights: New thinking on the future of workspaces

Author Sean Davey.jpg

At the Transform Awards Europe 2018, the best in rebranding and brand development was celebrated. Pollitt & Partners is one of this year's winners

If we were once defined by our work, then now we are defined by our workspace.

Where we work is an extension of who we are. For businesses, the workspace has to live up to the aspiration of the people in them, not the other way around. Along with blurring the boundaries between where work ends and our other lives start, the spaces in which we choose to work now form a significant part of our identities. As a result, we can demand a much more rewarding experience of ‘office life.’

It started with the realisation that happy, stimulating environments create happy, productive employees that make businesses successful. By realising how hard it was to attract and retain the best talent, businesses had to look to model their spaces on successful consumer environments. This seismic shift may well have included the moment someone chose a slide over a staircase. It continued through the more thoughtful elements of fresh air, light and comfort, coffee shops, cycle stores and wellbeing.

Today, it’s the nomads and influencers flooding social feeds who continue to reframe what a workspace should feel like. If it’s not ‘freelancing from a beach in Thailand,’ and it’s definitely not catching air to accounting, then what is it? The fluidity between office design, brand expression and workplace wellbeing stands to benefit us all – with employees thinking ever more like consumers – choosing where they want to work based on the values and experience of working in that place.

The benefit for brands (and the businesses behind them) is getting much closer to the communities they want to appeal to – attracting the right people to come and work for them, or crafting experiences that deepen the relationship between audience and brand. Workspace is now less about somewhere we go to everyday, but places we can craft that inspire and stimulate us.

As opportunities to hot desk, collaborate and move towards activity-based work multiply, the orthodoxy that was associated with open plan offices and collaboration is being replaced with an increasing recognition that it’s never one-size-fits-all, but lots of sizes to fit lots of different people.

Branding is central to this. It’s traditional City firms dedicating space to exciting fintech hubs. It’s even Airbnb recreating its most popular listings within the company’s San Francisco HQ. When brands know what they stand for – the fundamentals of who they are – we can transform environments to reflect these values.

These buildings and rooms, spun through the lens of ‘experience,’ now have the possibility to be an extension of self – and one that has to be seen, and felt, as rewarding and desirable. As a result, maximising efficiencies now plays a secondary role to fulfilling an emotional need. Creating connections, meaningful collaborations, bringing people together in unexpected ways; the future of our workspaces is surprisingly human.

Sean Davey is a partner and strategist at Pollitt & Partners