By Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCR
In the midst of a world where technology and mobility make it possible to work anywhere, it’s more important than ever to make the facility a destination and a place that people want to be. A workplace characterized by Workplace Vitality™ – the intersection of collaboration, engagement, well-being, and workplace productivity – is that kind of place.
Because people can work anywhere inside or outside the office — and often are — they are working in new ways within the office as well. These new ways of working are placing new demands on the facility. Mars Drinks has studied these new patterns of work through our coffee shop and work café research(1), and through research with multiple companies across North America(2). This is a snapshot of a few of the findings and ways we believe workplaces must respond.
Shifting Work Throughout The Day
One of the new patterns of working is that people are shifting between contemplative and collaborative work more frequently. For some, this is an aspect of multi-tasking. For others, it’s the result of leaders increasingly serving as player-coaches supporting their staff while also making room for their independent work. Because of this shifting pattern of working, the workplace should support focused work via workstations, booths, or out-of-the way tables on the periphery of a floor. It should also support more collaborative work suited for the more central, open parts of the space. Workplace beverages are part of this pattern of shifting too, since people will frequently grab a cup of coffee or tea as they make the change from one type of work to another.
Perhaps because of the influence of coffee shops, people increasingly want to work in more centrally, trafficked areas even if they are doing individual work. They are demanding spaces with enough activity to feel like they are connected to others, but with the accoutrements that support individual work. This kind of balance demands spaces that are large enough, and enough of a draw (coffee is a great magnet!) to encourage traffic and use, but with features like pods or booths that allow for slightly more acoustical and visual privacy for focused work in the more public setting.
People are territorial by nature and tend to mark their space with their belongings, materials, or even their coffee cups. In terms of the facility, ensuring that there is enough space for people to spread out and work productively is critical.
Work itself has become increasingly transparent. The process of getting work done demands more collaboration — and plenty of open sharing of work-in-process amongst team members. In addition, the outputs of work are shared with wider audiences of decision-makers or stakeholders. Likewise, many emerging work styles prefer being out in the open among co-workers in order to derive energy, make connections, and stay stimulated. In order to respond, facility management should consider if they are offering enough open work-café or public lounge-type spaces to meet this demand for transparency.
Increasingly, the new nature of work requires that people manage their energy levels. They want to structure their work around their natural energy peaks and valleys throughout the day, and ensure they are taking breaks in order to revive and refresh. Mars Drinks’ research with designers(3) also reinforced the importance of workplaces with plenty of daylight, views, and/or great lighting as well as bright colors and unexpected materials to energize and engage the senses. In the research(4), people also reported that a primary source of their energy and well-being was tied to a sense of choice and control over their environment — so providing variety and places to both work alone or together is an important element to examine.
(1) Based on research conducted on behalf of Mars Drinks in coffee shops and corporate work cafés in North America during 2015 and 2016.
(2) Based on research conducted by Mars Drinks on multiple companies across industries, company sizes, and North America in 2015 and 2016.
(3) Charrettes and deep-dive working sessions held in November and December 2015.
(4) Survey conducted on behalf of Mars Drinks with 4,000 people in multiple industries, functions, and generations across North America in October 2015.
Brower is the global vice president of Workplace Vitality for Mars Drinks, an international workplace beverage solutions provider based in the Greater Philadelphia area. She is author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations. Brower is a three time recipient of the CoreNet luminary award for speaking and a recipient of the UofH Real Estate Innovative Practices Award.