More flexibility, less printing and no more talk about millennials. Experts weigh in on trends to watch in 2017.

2016 saw more companies look to their physical office as a strategic way to engage and attract talent, cultivate personality and stay competitive. No matter where you are in your workplace journey—just renovated, just thinking about it, or just not sure—here are seven things to consider as you improve your workplace and your employees’ experience in 2017.

We asked our team of experts to identify workplace initiatives they’re most focused on in 2017. Check back, as we’ll revisit these topics throughout the year.

And if you have anything specific you’d like to hear about, share your ideas here.

1. Keep pushing flexibility

We know flexible space is more productive and cost-effective, but uptake is still lagging. Activity-based work environments and unassigned workstations increase utilization, but many employees aren’t taking advantage because they’re reluctant or unsure of how to use it. On top of providing flexible space, companies must continue to train and empower people to work in whatever setting supports the task at hand and the people they’re with.

2. Celebrate coworking

News outlets, shared space providers, researchers and commercial real estate companies worldwide are touting the rise of coworking among large organizations—those who put employees in coworking sites more for talent and innovation than for flexibility. But for one reason or another, many of these companies are staying silent. It’s time to shift the balance from journalists and coworking companies selling the idea, to large occupiers publicly embracing the concept and sharing its benefits.

3. Banish the “m” word

Whether you believe millennials to be lazy or innovative, digital natives or digital dependents, there’s a think piece to support you. How millennials impact the workplace is a particularly exhaustive topic, but young employees are just one driver of workplace change. Rather than continuing to discuss generational differences en masse, let’s resolve to talk about the individual. Moving forward, lifestyle will be as important as lifecycle in understanding an employee’s desires and responsibilities. Not to mention, Gen Z is just around the corner.

4. Make way for smarter space

Smart buildings and intuitive technology are not far-away concepts. They’re here. Building tenants expect a more personalized and responsive workplace, and innovative companies want to deliver a better overall experience for their employees.

What was once billed as the gold standard of sustainability is now recognized as a way to improve human experience and change how work is done—through follow-me phones, intelligent apps, cashless vending and more.

Building owners, tenants and managers are already realizing the competitive advantages of these technologies. Soon those that don’t have smart, connected systems are going to feel the impact—whether in valuation, rental rates or employee perception.

5. Disconnect to connect

Though buildings are evolving and technology is changing our work, much of it is designed to happen seamlessly without human input. Smarter systems and improved connectivity will change the way we interact not with technology but with each other. And to that end, the office will need to evolve to meet its new primary objective: building social capital and attracting talent.

As technology advances, so will the need for space to completely disconnect. Space to focus on the relationships, processes and behaviors that can’t be digitized. Space just to think.

6. Go beyond sustainability

The route from green building to productive people has never been stronger—or more lucrative. A recent Harvard study revealed that on average, people working in a green office (better ventilation, fewer VOCs) had higher cognitive function than those working in a conventional office by as much as 61%. They even went a step further and translated this to financial savings (through higher productivity) of more than $6,000 per person per year. Moving forward, the focus on sustainability will shift from energy efficiency to productivity gains.

7. Sacrifice printers

It’s time. Take the initiative and go completely paperless. For the environment, the expense and your mobile workforce.

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About the author


About the author

JLL Staff Reporter, Behind-the-scenes
A team passionate about delivering valuable content and tools about workplace to help you deliver the best experience to your employees.

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