Sociability and collaboration are vital to the success of the modern workplace and after the Covid19 lockdown is over, they will be in even greater demand.
It is proven and widely recognising that strong social connections in the workplace make employees happy and healthier, which also translates into greater productivity.
After a prolonged period of isolation, employees will crave greater face to face connection and businesses will realise it’s what’s been missing too. While employees may have been working productively at home, the benefits of planned and impromptu get-togethers and the ideas and knowledge that can be shared, will have been lacking. Consequently, employers will be forced to rethink what they need from their workplaces.
This doesn’t mean that office interior design will be overhauled as soon as life returns to normal – but rather that business leaders will need to reconsider their workplace priorities. Lockdown has shown that all employees don’t have to be in the same space every day and that it’s perhaps not the best use of space or cost. It’s also helped business leaders to see what their businesses need to thrive, rather than just survive.
We fully expect sociability, collaboration, knowledge sharing and community to be the new watchwords of client briefs, so we’ve decided to celebrate seven of the best workplaces that have these values at their heart.
- The Liverpool office of law firm Weightmans features both an innovation hub and a social zone both of which have helped with the firm’s vision for greater agility. Sofas, bright colours, high bench seating, an in-house cafe and integrated technology have created dynamic spaces that allow people to socialise, relax and work together with ease.
- In Hammersmith, Paddy Power Betfair’s office features dedicated spaces with a ‘common room’ appeal because they know the value of bringing their people together. A town hall space provides ample room for group discussions away from traditional desking and a green house, complete with cinema seats, offers something visually interesting and unexpected for lone and group working. With a focus on sociability, the office also includes a self-service café point serving beer, wine and coffee, which is located next to their in-house studios. Housed in glazed pods so that employees can watch high profile stars like Jose Mourinho as they record adverts, the studios provide a real social focus and have instilled pride in the team. A well-equipped games area complete with table tennis, air puck and games consoles adds to the fun and relaxed atmosphere and promotes friendships at work.
- At WYG in Leeds, the office includes an urban themed café to rival any of the local coffee shops. Warm and inviting, the space includes an eclectic range of seating so that the space is just as well suited to friends and colleagues catching up at lunch, as it is to company-wide meetings. The inclusion of retro games has made this the social heart of the workplace and captures WYG’s young, professional and dynamic energy.
- The Bristol headquarters of tea brand Pukka Herbs has brought its commitment to employee wellbeing to life through its focus on community. The office features a Heart of Pukka room – designed for meditation and group contemplation, a Retreat Room for mindfulness and calm and a project space for brainstorming complete with write-on walls. At the opposite end of the floorplate, a large gathering space doubles up for employee yoga sessions and company meetings.
- At Taylor Wimpey in Solihull, the office challenges the idea of a traditional training environment thanks to its strong focus on playfulness and community. The space includes one large breakout area which not only encourages teams to socialise but also acts as an inviting welcome area for training activities. Areas dedicated to play and relaxation, quiet reflection, group work and collaboration are clearly defined and support a positive workplace culture of conviviality and unity.
- The Manchester office of legal firm Shoosmiths has ensured that knowledge sharing is encouraged as much as possible thanks to some careful interior design. A revamp of the traditional ‘legal library’ concept has created a space suited to individual training and team mentoring. The office also includes a range of soft and booth seating, large kitchen-table type spaces and an onsite café so that there’s ample comfortable opportunities to bring people together. All of this is further supported by an open plan layout which encourages movement and serendipitous meetings between teams and individuals.
- At King in London sociability is an essential part of their business – it’s how their teams come up with ideas and develop and test new games. The office has a vibrant branded feel with lots of highly creative areas for meetings and socialising. It includes ample spaces for quick ‘impromptu’ catch-ups plus a roof terrace for staff socials, live music events and general wellbeing.
The one thing that unites all of these spaces is variety – each of these businesses has recognised the importance of variety and choice in bringing people together and encouraging interaction. Whether that’s people having lunch, informal meetings, team-catch ups, after work drinks or video-game sessions, the benefits are the same. The more sociability and collaboration there is in the workplace the better. Loyal teams are happy, healthy and productive and they build successful businesses. In the wake of Covid19, that’s exactly what we’ll need more of.