Modern Office Working: Practices, Environments, and Spaces

Office space & design Business advice
Estimated read time: 4 mins
Published: 17/06/2022

The days of working 9-5 are well and truly over. While the employee experience was poor for many decades, thankfully modern working has evolved since Dolly’s chart-topping hit. The experience for the average desk-worker is now less about structured hours sitting at one lonely desk; and more about flexible hours, shared workspaces, unique perks and a greater focus on wellbeing. This time, it’s the employers offering the ‘service and devotion’ in a bid to differentiate from their competitors.

Hotdesking and coworking spaces are springing up everywhere, with over 700 coworking office spaces in London alone. The choice this provides, especially for small businesses, freelancers and budding entrepreneurs, is unprecedented – but is the bubble of ‘modern working’ ready to burst, or is it just getting started?

What Are Modern Working Practices?

Modern working practices are about providing an environment that takes into account the benefits that really matter to employees.

It’s great for brand image, staff recruitment and retention, and if shared workspace or agile working is part of this, lower overheads for the employer. The umbrella term ‘modern working’ usually comprises 3 main pillars:

  • Modern working practices
  • Modern working environment
  • Modern working space

Some companies are leading the way when it comes to modern working. We’ve all read about the free travel, lunches and relaxation areas at Google’s head offices. Online real estate company Zillow ships breast milk home if mums have to work away, and travel firm Patagonia provide onsite childcare and allows mothers to take a caregiver when they’re on business trips

Modern working is about really knowing your audience, with the audience being your staff. From creating modern working practices that encourage agile working, to ensuring your workspace environment matches up to your team’s needs, there are several ways to embrace modern workspace trends.

What Do Employees Want From Modern Working Practices?

Deloitte’s ‘2018 Millennial Survey’ found that 43% of millennials planned to quit their current job within two years, and only 28% planned to stay in their current role for more than five years. With that amount of churn, companies really need to reassess how to keep and attract talent – and that’s more than just free doughnuts on a Friday.

Key modern workplace trends include:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Focus on physical wellbeing
  • Mental health awareness
  • Collaborative environments
  • Team bonding and socials
  • Additional perks, such as breakfast, coffee machines, and non-financial incentives

While these provisions are viable for large companies to offer, smaller businesses may struggle to compete. But ‘modern working’ is not just about the on-site gym and weekly massages. Small businesses are also making significant changes to workplace wellness like using Skype and video-conferencing to avoid costly and time-consuming physical meetings, days off on birthdays, flexi-time, four-day weeks, working from home and ‘duvet days’ – an opportunity to chill-out and de-stress on top of your contracted holiday allowance.

Two colleagues using modern working practices in the office

Modern Working Practices

More attention is also being paid to the efficiency of our working days and how to improve productivity without neglecting wellbeing. The Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, is a time management method named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used. It encourages people to set a time limit on a task, separated by regular break intervals. Think of it as the office equivalent of a high intensity workout – short bursts of targeted productivity, free from outside distractions, with breaks ensuring that the level of concentration never drops.

There are altruistic reasons behind this. it can be hugely beneficial for people with children or long commutes. Equally, there are sound financial benefits for companies, as home-workers use their own electricity, internet, phones, and drink their own tea and coffee. It’s mutually beneficial.

The Government’s Taylor review of modern working practices, published in 2017 and updated last year, produced seven principles, one of which stated ‘the shape and content of work and individual health and wellbeing are strongly related. For the benefit of firms, workers and the public interest we need to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health’.

Modern Working Environments

‘Modern working environments’ refers to practices and initiatives that encourage modern working – such as flexible working hours, collaborative office spaces, agile working, and work from home policies. Businesses will choose to embrace modern working in different ways, with different policies working better for different teams.

There are many studies that indicate how beneficial modern working environments can be. Agile working, for example, has been proven to increase productivity, decrease overheads, and boost employee engagement. Workplace wellness programmes are known to increase talent recruitment and employee retention.

Colleagues in a modern working environment looking at a laptop

Modern Working Spaces

Modern working spaces are designed to encourage agile working, collaboration and community. Often, modern working spaces come in the form of coworking spaces.

Though coworking spaces come in different forms and have different benefits, they will usually always tend to have all of the following features:

  • Hotdesking areas
  • Breakout spaces
  • Private office spaces
  • Communal areas, including a fitted kitchen
  • Phone booths
  • Focus booths
  • Meeting rooms
  • Shared bathrooms

These features are conducive to agile working and collaboration; encouraging employees to work in the way that best suits what they are working on.

The world is changing, and so is the work environment. ‘Modern working’ and modern workspaces put the employee at the heart of the working experience. If employers want to recruit and retain talent, they need to stay competitive and adopt modern working methodology. Communication is key if we want the positives of modern working to endure.

Want to work in a space that gives you the flexibility to stay productive while keeping things fun? Our flexible workspaces, member events and perks are just some of the ways we help make modern working work for you. Pop in to one of our spaces or find out more here.

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