14 Ways the Workplace is Evolving – Is Your Corporate Culture Keeping Up?

As corporate cultural battles play out, workplaces have become the battleground, with outcomes increasingly dependent on worker engagement, health, well-being and a sense of belonging or purpose. The following are 14 workplace trends reshaping corporate cultures in 2014 and beyond:

  1. Visualization and the future of work  Visualizations powered by 3D-simulated reality engines are becoming a way to enhance high-speed decision-making and help set the context in which sound decisions are made. This technology is penetrating more deeply into corporate organizations.
  2. Consumerization of space – Beyond virtual and physical work settings, a third workplace dimension is emerging: the consumerization of space, or the idea that workers want to work when and where they are most productive.
  3. Return to privacy – A 2013 study by workplace trend-spotter Richard Kadzis shows 49 percent of nearly 200 companies either have overbuilt open, collaborative spaces or they aren’t sure about their workplace balance. One possible reason for this doubt: more than 4 in 10 employees use makeshift solutions to block out non-work related distractions, according to a 2013 workplace study by the architectural firm Gensler.
  4. Compression of space per person – The uptick of open workplace designs, coupled with worker mobility, is impacting the amount of space companies allocate for each employee. Companies save costs with ‘smaller and smarter’ real estate portfolios, but increased density underscores the conflict between efficiency and a need to provide different work environments for different situations.
  5. Choice-driven performance and innovation – Companies that provide knowledge workers with a balanced, well-designed choice of focused versus collaborative settings in an activity-based environment will be more productive, competitive and profitable.
  6. The end of command-and-control – The Industrial Age command-and-control model is anachronistic in today’s global knowledge economy, and workplace design increasingly reflects this change with less differentiation between executive and rank-and-file workspaces.
  7. Innovation over isolation – People need interaction to connect with the culture of the enterprise. For innovative, creative or adaptive work, collaboration can significantly raise the value of the outcomes.
  8. Our jobs are killing us – Knowledge workers sit an average of 9.6 hours a day, and sitting for more than six hours a day makes an employee 40 percent more likely to die in the next 15 years than someone who sits less than three hours a day. Companies are beginning to support more movement in the workplace, including environmental encouragements such as convenient staircases and treadmill desks.
  9. Shift from physical to intellectual space – Physical space without the ‘thinking’ space in which employees can decide, act and excel won’t result in optimized engagement, and leadership is what makes the difference in achieving both, according to Dr. Barbara Jackson, Director of the University of Denver’s Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate & Construction Management.
  10. Measuring workplace ROI in real terms – In most cases, the return on investment (ROI) of open, collaborative workplaces is measured in two-dimensional terms such as cost per square foot or revenue per person. Moving forward, we’ll see a new set of empirical metrics on workplace engagement, wellness, satisfaction, productivity and even workers’ passion for what they do.
  11. From big data to dark data – Dark data from inside a company’s firewall can have a huge influence on the direction of a company and its workplace strategy. Additionally, dark data can be used to shape a company’s external strategies for choosing locations, recruiting talent and the capital it needs to operate.
  12. Über-sustainability – The linkage between the quality of working environments and work experiences, energy conservation and corporate social responsibility is growing stronger. Companies that design more efficient and intelligent building infrastructures aren’t just reducing their energy spend €”they are creating a higher degree of workplace comfort and wellness for employees.
  13. Return to the city – Urban centers will continue to attract companies interested in younger workers, with progressive work settings and a lifestyle characterized by reuse of existing buildings, transit-oriented development, walkability, biking, night life, airports, universities, museums, healthcare and more. As young talent and Baby Boomers alike migrate into the city, companies are adjusting their location strategies.
  14. Intrapreneurial Learning – How once-small companies scale innovation across their now-globally networked enterprises is fast becoming a key ingredient for competitive advantage. Knowledge transfer, employee mentoring, talent rotation and on-the-job learning are crucial to the next generation of professionals.

The workplace is shifting from an ownership model to a membership model, with employers today creating inclusive cultures that drive cross-functional collaboration. These 14 trends are not only affecting workplace culture, they are also impacting the ability to attract and retain top talent, drive innovation, enable worker productivity and reduce corporate real estate costs.



Bernice Boucher

Bernice Boucher leads the Workplace Strategy group for  JLL with responsibility for the Americas. She can be reached at [email protected].