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First We Shape Our Places And Then Our Places Shape Us!

As Winston Churchill said ‘First we shape our places and then our places shape us.’ Therefore, considering workplaces as just walled and closed areas is one of the major delusions of the companies. Nowadays, a workplace means more than a physical space!

The way occupiers work is evolving to meet the new demand of the market and companies are changing the workplace for improving employee and business productivity. The workplace plays a strategic and a critical role for the excellent brand positioning, organizational culture and value creation.

On the other hand, new workplace concept also offers companies maximum efficiency with minimum space; meaning minimized cost-per-square-meter and optimized utilization rates! Istanbul office market has witnessed significant rental change over the past ten years.  The prime rent levels, especially in CBD and Asia sub-market, have shown an increase by more than 100% since 2006. Therefore, occupiers are being pushed to seek working space with minimum rental cost, which is one of the major fixed costs of organizations. 

According to JLL’s ‘Forget the Workplace…for Now’ Report, which focuses on workplace productivity strategies, this improvement will be possible by considering which work processes create value for an organization and its clients, and then by finding a workplace strategy that best supports them. 

Who Will Come First In The Race of Being ‘The Best Place to Work’?

New working practices and rental growth are the major drivers of office markets’ global tendency towards new workplace culture. Mobile working supported by technological developments – high-tech personal smartphones for work-related activities and growing number of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs - is shaping the office design. All-purpose offices offer informal meeting rooms, private phone rooms, Wi-Fi enabled cafes, whiteboards, chalkboards or ‘idea paint’ walls to their guests. They also drive the evolution from ‘place of work’ to ‘the best place to work for’. By creating different working areas within the office, organizations can ensure their staff to have the complete freedom and flexibility to work wherever they want, whenever they want. 

After all, the term ‘agility’ is getting on the business stage to describe ground-breaking concepts and newly designed workplaces. Indeed, ‘agility’ indicates two distinct notions for business world as ‘workplace agility’ – office design according to what staffs actually do rather than which departments they belong to – and ‘institutional agility’ for adaptation to structural changes. As common practices of agile workplace strategy, manager rooms are diminishing in size or even reshaped in newly delivered open offices, and ‘desk ownership’ notion is being replaced with the ‘organizational membership and shared space’ concept, pointing to a transition from ‘my space’ to ‘our space’ and increased efficiency by increasing associated population to the office. 

It’s Also Important for ‘Value Generation’ Process

Besides, employee engagement is a vital element of the workplace transformation to create emotional connection with the organization. The human factor cannot be ignored on the design process of workplaces due to working habits of the new generation, Generation-Y; tech savvy, family oriented, team players and advanced communicators.

Steven Johnson – science author and media theorist – refuses the conventional metaphors and language of idea-creation, which assert that ‘idea’ is a single thing happening in an illuminating moment, and he points out new principles and concepts. According to Johnson, the idea is a new network that is happening inside the brain by neurons firing in sync with each other. As the answer to ‘How could we get our brain into environments where these new networks are going to be more likely to form?’, he highlights that if we are trying to build more innovative organizations, office spaces should look like facilities where new ideas and unpredictable new collisions of people - from different backgrounds and interests, in particular - are likely to come together. He finally supports his opinion with Kevin Dunbar’s observation on scientists’ behaviour in a number of laboratories to figure out where good ideas come from. Contrary to expectations, almost all important ground-breaking ideas did not happen alone in a lab or in front of a microscope; they came to the surface at conference tables and weekly lab meetings when scientists got together and shared their latest data and findings. Agile workplace concept is coming into prominence in that point by supporting collaboration, rapid decision-making and execution.

It is surely beyond doubt that innovation and new ideas, in other words, value generation is only a part of extensive outcomes from the open office concept. JLL’s research report – ‘Fully engaged’ – focuses on the relation between workplace design and company culture. The report indicates that the growth of employee happiness and commitment lead to efficiency and effectiveness in the business environment by increasing profitability and productivity and minimizing defects, incidents and absenteeism. On the other hand, recruiting new talents without obligation of offering high salaries is possible with attractive workplace facilities and culture, which ensure a better brand value thanks to design’s direct effect on the culture via influencing systems, symbols and behaviours over time.  All in all, modern workplace strategies with open office concept and agile working practices offer companies a better work environment with its all benefits at rationalised real estate costs.