At the very end of the 1990s, some of the biggest names in capital-B Big Business began worrying about how the corporate landscape may change in the future.
On the cusp of the new millennium, the commercial world was expected to see enormous paradigm shifts and upheavals as we'd never seen before.
Which makes sense when looking back to the climate at the time. The market crash of the late 1980s wrought devastating consequences, so much so that many believe we are still experiencing part of that collateral damage. After all, the last decades of the Twentieth Century saw a tyrannical commercial world characterised in films like Wall Street.
As a result, we turned offices on their heads – no more cubicles, no more intensively stratified environments – and in their place, open plan, agile and collaborative spaces coupled together with similar ideologies of transparency.
Skip ahead to now and we've all become increasingly specialised. Whether due to divisions in role structures or increased uptake of new technologies, the benefits of specialisation, of course, are manifold.
Something perhaps less considered though is that the pipelines for succession planning are beginning to dry out – leading many to follow suit and have a crack at going at it on their own in the emerging (and voguishly titled) 'gig economy'.
While the number of potential candidates for any given position continues to drop, global connectivity has reached a point where companies can attempt to court pretty much anyone in the world.
As it becomes increasingly harder to get the best staff, other benefits are getting thrown into the mix. Put your hand up if you've heard something along the lines of, "... and the position comes with some great perks!" in order to try and elevate a role.
For those of us in office jobs, time in lieu, a company car, or discounted tickets to <that thing you wanted> are all extremely commonplace examples of such bonuses. But these kinds of incentives don't necessarily 'perk you up' in the long run.
That personalised car spot didn’t make you feel any better when you sat down at your desk to answer memos and faxes two decades ago. Just because the carrot dangled in front of workers has turned into a pristine open-plan office or complementary gym membership, the goal posts haven't actually changed at the end of the day.
All of a sudden, we stopped looking at the prize and began to inspect the tools; we stopped thinking that the end should justify the means; and we began understanding that greater pleasure, health and satisfaction wasn't something that should only be worked towards, but rather it was somehow central to the concept of best practice.
Tech companies, in particular, proved especially forward-thinking in this respect: Google stopped doling out perks in recognition of jobs well-done, and instead began offering the perks to all employees in a bid to bolster a company culture based on equitable distribution, equal opportunity and equal transference of skills and talent.
Their offices embodied the culture of the company itself, and people wanted to be a part of it.
The short answer: yes. And here's how:
(1) User-centric design approaches
Corporations continue to need talented individuals, even if the pool of candidates has decreased.
To attract, retain and develop key talent, then, we need to create working environments that constantly reinvest in a company's number one asset: people.
According to the design team behind PaperCut in Melbourne's Hawthorn, it was important to create a highly resolved commercial environment that allowed its workforce "to understand the evolution of the company, while also working to grow with it into the future."
For its headquarters, PaperCut took inspiration from its global expansion, while also celebrating the talent that makes up the company:
"The end result is more than a fancy office: it is the PaperCut story told in three dimensions. Quite literally, the story of the company has been written on the wall, told through a custom-designed wall graphic, a tree where each branch recounts the history of PaperCut." – Cube Architects.
Deviating from traditional corporate fit-outs, Cube Architects selected a range of essential furnishings from P4 to offset the visually stimulating effects of custom features, dynamic lighting designs and bright workspaces.
Providing streamlined and consistent essential furniture made up the shared – or team-oriented and democratic – backbone in a commercial environment that simultaneously celebrates the value of individuality.
To deliver that edge in an increasingly competitive commercial landscape, we need to provide design solutions that can be continually modified to suit the ever-changing needs of modern workplaces.
Vaunted as the 'dedicated space for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs', Tyro FinTechHub believes that well-designed companies begin with well-designed environments.
Located in the heart of Sydney, Tyro's up-to-the-minute facilities are all designed around the understanding that we all work to our greatest potential in radically different ways.
To ensure that introverts were as empowered as extroverts (and every single person on the spectrum between those two opposing ends), the lead design team selected Boss Design's Coza chairs, Shuffle pods and US/11 lounge system to create flexible meeting and working areas.
Wanting to meet the needs of intimate collaborative tasks as well as focus-driven individual tasks, the Boss Design portfolio proved uniquely positioned to answer the flexibility requirements.
People are working to later stages in their lives. For an older workforce, then, we need to actively encourage greater health and well-being in every aspect of our working environments.
As we continue to cherish the virtues of more agile and user-centred workplaces, one of the biggest problems we face is rethinking our design approach to curb the counterintuitive effects of noise pollution.
Underpinning stress, hypersensitivity, loss of sleep, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate, noise carries potentially disastrous consequences that actively diminish both the strength and longevity of our working lives.
A recent refurbishment project in Melbourne's suburb of Mulgrave sought to redress these hazards by rethinking the acoustic attenuation of the offices various collaborative spaces.
Using over 180 of Bla Station's GINGKO Acoustic Wall Panels to combat noise pollution, this acoustical absorptive product ensures the short-term and long-term health benefits of their workforce.