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Modern office design needs to enhance productivity says JLL national director of markets

Is your workplace enabling productivity? Mark Grant of Jones Lang LaSalle discusses a new approach to office design based on value generation

The award-winning ASB North Wharf building on the building, institution, mixed use, real estate, shopping mall, gray
The award-winning ASB North Wharf building on the Auckland waterfront reflects the new thinking that is transforming modern office interiors. A series of sky bridges connect the multi-coloured spaces and floors.

With the Auckland and Wellington office markets experiencing some of the lowest vacancy rates ever recorded, it's no secret that occupiers are turning to workplace strategy to find the key to making the most efficient use of their space and to improve productivity.

Prime vacancy has reached its lowest point ever in the 26-year history of the office vacancy survey carried out by real estate consultancy JLL.

Mark Grant, JLL national director of markets, says with such a critical shortage in prime office space and limited new supply in the short term, New Zealand businesses are embracing the international trend toward implementing a successful workplace strategy.

"Workplace strategy used to be a buzz word, but in the current market it's a practical reality," Grant says. "It is becoming the norm, not the exception, with more than 72% of companies now looking for workplace productivity."

Grant says a successful workplace strategy not only helps companies reduce their occupancy costs and space requirements, but 61% of companies now look to their workplace to increase employee productivity, satisfaction and retention. This creates a culture ready to adapt to future business evolutions.

"We are seeing the workplace strategy trend in corporates who are implementing more efficient space solutions to combat a business expansion when the cost of moving is prohibitive or, in the case of Auckland, where there are no available alternatives." Resilience essential


Brightly coloured meeting areas and a range of factory, hangar, leisure, leisure centre, sport venue, structure, gray, black
Brightly coloured meeting areas and a range of open, semi-private and private spaces provide plenty of collaborative areas for employees at the new ASB North Wharf offices. Fibreglass Aquapods act as breakout meeting rooms.

Grant says resilience in a changing economic climate is required, and business agility provides significant competitive advantage. A workplace strategy that accommodates tighter budgets, a shifting workforce and other occupancy challenges will better enable a company to meet short- and long-term business objectives.

"In New Zealand's current market, the success of workplace strategies all too often comes down to crude calculations of reduced cost per square metre or increased utilisation rates. This does not come as a surprise since there is often an absence of a clear link between workplace strategy and value generation. Many companies struggle to define how to otherwise measure the success of these initiatives."

Su Lim, JLL's Asia Pacific's head of strategic workplace services, recently travelled to New Zealand from Singapore to convey her expert advice to companies who wanted to optimise their space for efficiency and effectiveness.

"Focusing purely on cost can easily lead to missed opportunities for productivity improvement, such as better, smarter, more innovative and faster solution development," she says. "It is unrealistic to say that cost is not important, but a sole focus on cost could hinder your organisation from supporting actual business needs."

Does your workplace support the highest value activities?

JLL says many firms are investing heavily in workplace strategies that are better designed to support the work that their people do. However, what some companies are failing to consider is whether or not the work their employees are doing is actually the work that will create the most value for the organisation.

Lively office interiors that offer diverse workplace settings furniture, interior design, office, table
Lively office interiors that offer diverse workplace settings enhance productivity and help with employee retention. The ASB North Wharf offices were designed to achieve such goals.

A recent poll undertaken by JLL reveals a staggering disconnect, with 74% of respondents saying that thinking, talking and brainstorming create the most value for an organisation, while only 24% are spending most of their time on these high-value activities. Creative collaboration, concentrated work and face-to-face interactions have been identified as the activities that create the most value for organisations. One size does not fit all

Current strategies around flexible, mobile or collaborative working are sometimes a one-size-fits-all approach. JLL proposes a new approach that starts with considering which work processes create value for your organisation and clients, and then designing a workplace strategy that best supports them. An approach that is structured around what makes your company successful will deliver results that far exceed cost savings, provide measurable outcomes in the areas that really matter for your business, and boost the bottom line. Value is created when a business can support all types of work in the right way.

Grant says many offices are not equipped to facilitate the required balance of focused and collaborative work. Providing a workplace that enables your staff to spend more time on the activities that create value for your business will often better enhance productivity than squeezing in more people or optimising utilisation rates.

"Companies should assess the impact of workplace transformation projects based on value generation. This means developing a deep understanding of the clients and what they need or expect from your business, which ultimately determines the success of your organisation.

By directly linking the workplace to your business performance and client experience, a wide range of new metrics becomes available, allowing your organisation to move away from the limiting, cost-centric conversation, and engage in the value side of the workplace productivity equation."

Story by: Trendsideas

30 Oct, 2014

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