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How has office culture changed over the last decade?

Mobile connectivity and easy remote access mean that being at work no longer has to involve being tied to the desk. Meanwhile, a global marketplace is helping to drive new ways of collaborating and communicating. Other changes are happening too; increasingly, businesses with an eye on maximising productivity appreciate the importance of a happy, healthy and engaged workforce.

Here’s how all of this has helped to reshape office culture over the last few years…

A greater demand for flexibility

The idea of fixed hours – where an entire workforce clocks in at 9 and leaves on the dot of 5 looks hopelessly old fashioned in 2016. A big formal change happened two years ago; new legislation now means that employees have the legal right to ask for flexibility in where and when they work – and employers are obliged to take such requests seriously.

For many organisations, there’s a clear business case for flexible arrangements. Take for instance, a company with clients scattered across different time zones; if staff are expected to handle client communications outside of ‘normal’ office hours, then a reasonable quid pro quo involves giving them greater leeway to arrange their hours in a way that enables them to balance work and life commitments effectively.

According to one survey, 83% of managers link increased flexibility to a boost in productivity, while 61% say that it has helped increase profit growth. These days, staff are less likely to be gathered all together, on-site at the same time; an arrangement that can suit the company and its employees alike.

The office as a touchdown or drop-in point

According to ONS figures, more than 4 million of us now work regularly from home – the highest number since records began in 1988. 14.8% of those are managers and almost three quarters of home workers are in some of the highest skilled roles in the economy. Also, what was previously ‘dead time’ (such as long train journeys to and from client meetings) is now routinely put to good use by execs connected via laptops and other devices.

The upshot of this is that fewer employees regard the office as their primary location for getting things done.

We still need and use the office – but for slightly different reasons compared to a decade ago. It’s still where we touch base; welcome and nurture clients, where we debrief after a big event and where we discuss the next deliverable – even if it’s not necessarily where the routine ‘slog’ takes place.

In 2016, a great office environment should reflect this reality. The more mobile and flexible the company, the less the need for a workstation earmarked for each staff member. From an employee’s perspective, the idea of ‘owning’ a certain desk starts to make little sense if you’re away from the office for most of the time.

Lounges suitable for meeting clients and catching up with colleagues, collaboration zones, the ability to quickly plug in for a short burst of work before the next meeting: for many businesses, these features of an office are now essential.

“A day at the office”: how expectations have changed

According to a survey released earlier this year, a third of us would choose flexible working arrangements over a 3% pay rise. Money isn’t everything, especially when it comes to younger workers; PwC research shows that “the opportunity for personal development” heads the list of millennials’ reasons for accepting a job – coming far higher than starting salary as the top consideration.

“Is this job good for me?”: increasingly, this is what employees ask themselves when considering career direction. Office culture is a big part of this. Being able to operate autonomously, to network, to develop new skills, to be based in an inspiring location: these are all big draws for the next generation of employees.

By providing a stimulating office environment, employers are better able to meet these expectations – and to feel the benefits in the form of increased productivity. The serviced office sector has been especially adept at responding to this over recent years. Thanks to on-site yoga sessions, lunchtime expert seminars, rooftop bars and much else besides, a typical day in the office can be anything but dull.

Finding a property to match your desired office culture

Ten years ago, Facebook was still a tiny startup, whereas now, it has a market valuation of $350bn. It’s an era-defining company, not least because of the strength of its office culture. Create an inspirational space, do what you can to enable collaboration, provide an environment where employees can flourish: this is what we’ve learned from Facebook and companies like it over the last decade.

Does your company have the right home to facilitate the type of office culture you’d like to nurture? DeVono works exclusively for occupiers, taking the time to understand your business needs, values, and aspirations. For your next move in the capital begin your search for London office space with DeVono.

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