What Workers Want - And How IQL Measures Up
The survey concluded that, of all the employees who would be keen to return to the office they would like to work in spaces that prioritise four elements: safety, community, collaboration and productivity. (p19) And workplaces are going to have to prioritise these very elements to keep occupiers happy and productive.
Here are some of the main findings from UK participants and an examination of how IQL’s London offices measure up.
When asked to describe the ideal office, three key takeaways were prominent in the answers. And each of them can be associated with employee wellbeing.
The first: relaxation zones – places where people can branch off to take some time to themselves. Decades of research now show that small relaxation breaks are key to staying productive in the office. Within our buildings at IQL, we have such spaces incorporated into each floor and even into the surrounding public realm. These may be outdoor terraces, outdoor workspaces (see the Living Room, our outdoor meeting space), or comfortable seating environments, away from the main desk space within each office. We’re also located right next to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which has acres of rolling, green parkland which can be seen as an extension of the meeting room offering – for walking meetings.
The second is flexible use spaces. Within our office buildings like 2 Redman Place, flexible floorplates allow each office to be created to suit employee needs. In spaces like Workable, our flexible office space that can be booked by the day, we prioritise open plan design. This means hot desks and seating areas where people can have meetings or just work independently away from a desk. And in The Turing Building you’ll find an ‘active lobby’: an entrance space designed for people to congregate, meet, and collaborate.
The final recurring answer was an increased number of workout areas. IQL is situated in the heart of Stratford, right next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a stone’s throw away from world-class fitness amenities: the Aquatics Centre, the CopperBox Arena, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Velopark and London Stadium itself. Each of these have classes, sessions, events and more running on a regular basis for local residents and employees. The park itself has running routes and walking trails – we challenge you to find a more picturesque location for your lunchtime jog. It’s part of the Olympic Legacy and there’s no other place in London within such close proximity to quality leisure spaces.
73% of occupiers said the main purpose of the office is to stay connected to colleagues with 70% agreeing the main purpose was for collaboration. This means that workplaces need to, not only facilitate collaboration, but positively encourage it. For the past few years, through the Loneliness Lab which was co-founded by Lendlease, we have been exploring what it takes to design places that nurture meaningful social relationships and a sense of belonging. From places like active open lobbies that people immediately feel welcome to linger and grab a coffee, to end of trip facilities designed to nudge social friendships and our community app Life@IQL that supports an active network across neighbour organisations - designing for human connection and collaboration is at the core of our workplace brief.
Each of our building’s floor plates is designed to Dunbar’s number, and with a central heart. This creates the perfect size zones for teams of up to 150 (the cognitive limit on human groups that form stable social relationships), and connection to a bigger community.
Open plan spaces at IQL lend themselves perfectly to a variety of areas - Booths that offer comfort and a higher degree of privacy; casual seating areas where you can grab a colleague and chat something through; retail areas where you can actually vacate the office and grab a coffee while collaborating with a partner organisation. All of the above exist within IQL’s workspaces.
We don’t doubt that many office of the future trends are likely to relate to upcoming technologies. Employees are looking for their workplaces to adopt these technologies to make working life better and more convenient. This was one element that was consistent in answers from across the UK, US and Australia.
54.1% of people wanted their office space to have touchless access control for an added level of security while 37.8% of employees wanted high indoor air quality. The latter is unsurprising in this post-Covid period, given the last 20 months of working from home to protect ourselves from contaminated air. It’s also a key element for those working in a London office due to the city’s ongoing issues with air quality.
Our buildings are fitted with secure entry and an air conditioning system that breathes 100% fresh air into each office. Full height glazing allows natural light to penetrate all indoor areas. It’s features like these that have led to us achieving results like BREEAM Outstanding and ‘Gold’ from the International Well Building Institute.
The findings from this survey are not only useful for employers to learn about their employees views on the big return to the office, they’re useful for those like us who are designing the future workplace. We’ve known for a long time now that the office should be designed around the user. And results like the above give us plenty of office innovation ideas to help us to continue pushing boundaries in workspace.
If you’d like to find out more about offices at IQL, take a look at our Workspace page.