We have heard the term “future of work” for years now. A future where technology is doing more for us at work and where employees flee corporate entities during a gig economy. Work spaces that have nap pods, slides for pure fun in between floors and zen rooms, but today we have to take a hard look at what this Future of Work means as we are trying to convince employees to come back to an office or workspace.
I have been contemplating this for the past year. What will motivate someone to leave the beautiful home office that they have created by now? Why would anyone want to go back into the office and leave the cozy spot next to the snack pantry with the ability to walk the dog as they attend a team meeting? And for those who are still sitting on their beds or sofas, hunched over a laptop, well that’s easy. Your back is screaming louder than the kids out on summer vacation, “Let’s get back to the office.”
Perhaps instead of starting our focus on how to make buildings better, we should start with how to make employees better. What is it that employees want from a space today? How do people do their best work? Some of the elements that companies are exploring are workspaces that include variety. Variety of spaces. Variety of designs. Getting out of the gray cubicle farm is a no-brainer, but studies have also shown that when hallways and offices have the same carpet, the same wall coverings and the same furniture, creativity suffers. Designing office spaces that are different and include lots of variety will boost brain performance.
Last week I met with an Architect and Interior Designer, Hillary Hazelton of Sapphire Interiors, and we discussed how buildings have focused on LEED certifications for a while, and that has to do with a green building rating system. These buildings are highly efficient and have a cost-saving benefit to them. Hillary said the newer “The WELL Building Standard®” is what we want to explore. This is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. WELL gives guidelines and ideas for accomplishing health-first factors that help every one of us to do our best work and be our best selves by supporting our physical and mental health.
Even when not pursuing a WELL certification, we want to start looking at how we can incorporate more of these elements into our workspaces. This could just be what motivates people to leave that comfy work at home space and return to the office.
So after sitting outside on a lovely Colorado morning, my mind started to wander and dream of the perfect work day in a space that was. Here is what it looked like:
I wake up and grab my “office bag” and head to my WORK AND WELLNESS CENTER. It’s only a 10-minute drive from the house so I don’t even get on the freeway. I walk in the door and hear someone greeting me by name with a cheery voice. I chirp back, “Good morning to you! What’s the juice special this morning?” “Ooh it’s a delicious Green Gladiator…just like you!” says the friendly greeter. I chuckle and walk over to the juice bar to try a sample. “Mmmm, I’ll take a medium please.”
I sip the juice as I walk to my office and toss my bag on the chair and head to catch the morning stretch class down the hall. It’s a full house. 15 of us, working for different companies but all under one roof and all friends. After class I shower and get ready for a zoom meeting in my office and then a team huddle at 11am.
The office has diffused lighting that almost looks like light streaming through tree leaves, there are natural materials everywhere from trees and wood pergolas in the back garden area, to boulders for tables. There is soft music playing throughout the entire building mixed with water and nature sounds in some areas. There are sensory spots that encourage you to remove your shoes and walk on pebble pathways or sit on a bench beneath an indoor tree to read and reflect.
For lunch I join others in the cafe that has healthy options to purchase or I can bring my lunch in. The cafe is poppin’ and plays lively music while people sit at group tables catching up or some head out back to enjoy a bit of sun and watch folks tending to their small garden plot in our community garden.
I head back to my office to get a bit of work done before remembering I have a 2pm massage scheduled in the studio next to the yoga room right in the same building. After the amazing massage, I finish the day with a couple hours on a writing project and realize I really don’t want to go home!
Luckily there are always events happening in the cafe starting at 4pm. Whether it is a fun Bob Ross painting night, complete with brown afro wigs and snacks, or a class on how to use LinkedIn to build Influence, there’s always an opportunity for fun connecting and education.
THIS is the future of work and the most exciting part is it’s HERE RIGHT NOW! Why can’t we create spaces that bring a feeling of well being instead of dread? Spaces that we actually want to go to, instead of drab office spaces that feel lifeless.
At the Village Workspace, we are EVOLVING into The Village Work and Wellness Centers and this dream I had… well it’s about to become a reality right here in our Centennial location and soon we will be bringing it to Lakewood as well. Our newest Work and Wellness center will be open in 2023 in the Belmar shopping center right in the pavilion area with fabulous tree-covered tables to work outside.