Brands Who Changed the Traditional Workplace Design

16 Jan 2020

Category: Educational

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When you think of a traditional workplace, you probably imagine a desk in a cubicle. 

The old days of grey walls and no work perks are now a thing of the past. Thanks to technology, the world, and the demands of our life, the workplace is changing. 

Technology is constantly driving us forward to change. The internet was only invented twenty years’ ago, yet look at where we are now. Technology is in everything we touch. From the cars we drive, the phones we use, the TV we watch, even down to the filtered tap in your office

While technology may not be the key culprit in our lifestyle change, it is without a doubt, the biggest driver. If it wasn’t for technology, our ability to choose when and where we work wouldn’t be possible. In the UK alone, there has been a 31% surge in people working for themselves. Which means, organisations now more than ever, must provide spaces and work that people enjoy. 

This is not just a technology movement but a cultural revolution. Millennials who are now the largest demographic of the UK workforce are choosing happiness, flexible work hours, and work-life balance. 

The shift of the traditional workplace has begun, but there are some brands who have already made the leap. 

Google 

When Google’s Head Office emerged with its pool tables, bowling alley’s, free gym memberships and nap pods, the world was shocked. 

Never had a business ‘office’ looked more like a playground for adults. And the media were also quick to mock. With headlines such as ‘juvenile’ and ‘extravagant’, Google was judged for changing their office from what we see as a traditional workplace. 

Yet, there is a means in the method. Dan Cobley, the UK’s managing director, revealed last year at a conference in London that everything is intentional. Right down to the canteen queue. As Dan put it, “lines are intentionally kept long because we know people will chat while they’re waiting. Chats become ideas, and ideas become projects.” 

While Google certainly isn’t the first brand to make a change to the workplace, they are a brand who have created the biggest storm. 

Many people have questioned whether their workplace adoption of slides and games rooms are more for PR or whether it truly works. But as a company who are leading their field, Google feels it is completely necessary for their workplace to reflect innovation and creativity. 

In regards to output, Google has topped Fortune’s list of Best Companies to Work For, for six years. Plus the tech giant is also regularly listed on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list. 

As Founders of Google Sergey Brin and Larry Page have said, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” 

Creating fun workplaces may be hard to think about. As a society, we have long separated work and life. But the data coming through tells us that fun and creative workplace can also be good for us. 

A study by Bright HR found that fun at work reduces absence, boosts productivity, and lowers levels of stress. 

Patagonia

As an outdoor sports retailer, Patagonia creates iconic jackets, fleeces and sports gear. However, the real success product of Patagonia is their workplace culture. 

Founder Yvon Chouinard, set-up Patagonia in the 1970s, without really realising he was starting a business. His best-selling book, Let My People Go Surfing, tells the story of his journey into an unlikely businessman. 

But it was Yvon’s passion for nurturing both planet and people that have put Patagonia on the map as a brand to look at. 

Even when workplace benefits were not a trend, Yvon and his team were the first to create an onsite creche for employees children. 

At Patagonia, their mission for sustainability drive their workplace. Rather than build brand new stores in new locations, they refurbish derelict or disused buildings. In fact, they are one of the first brands to upcycle and recycle for interior refurbishments. 

According to the latest figures, Patagonia does roughly $1 billion in sales each year and has 3,000 employees around the world. Yet each year, they give 1% of sales to environmental groups. 

It may appear admirable that a brand such as Patagonia has been trying to save the planet with its unique workplace. But a change from the traditional is not just required; it is now demanded. 

In the UK, 35% of employees want their employer to address environmental concerns. The research also suggests that this will begin to rise. 

With more of the workforce becoming aware of our impact on the world around us, the workplace will also need to reflect this. 

Why Do We Need to Change the Workplace? 

At Billi UK, we began our innovations more than twenty years ago. We have seen the demise of the traditional workplace. Instead, we have seen many brands and businesses decide to show their impact on the world by creating a smarter, more sustainable workplace. 

We need to change out of the traditional workplace and step into the modern world of work because the world is changing.

Those youngest entering the world of work, don’t remember a time when technology didn’t make everyone reachable. So they don’t see why they need to sit in an office to work. 

If you want to draw people into your workplaces, you must create a space of collaboration and community. Because that is where people will thrive, and want to join. 

As much as technology enables us to be digital nomads and increases our ability to remote work, we also have the desire to connect – Human-to-human. Which means our workplaces must be able to nurture this. 

The future of our workplace is still much unknown. The design must meet user needs just as it always has done. But who knows what our needs will be in ten or twenty years? 

The traditional workplace, as we know it may evolve further.

Right now, 77% of people want flexible working, and 61% believe their employer should make a positive contribution to society. 

For anyone designing or building a modern workplace, it is wise to get to know the users of that space. Because ultimately, they will be the ones driving the vision and work within the space.