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Workplace of the future – Interview with Hannah Nardini

In the first part of the interview, we talked to Hannah Nardini about workplace design and different strategies. In the continuation, we want to take a closer look at the personal aspects and external influences. We also look at the future: How will we work in 2030?

1. What kind of influence does the work environment have on the employees in your opinion? Personally, and as a collective?

The physical workplace is a space where people spend significant time each week and it is important to ensure it meets their needs at a functional and psychological level. This means that wellbeing should be front and centre. Providing spaces where people have control over their environment, access to natural daylight, spaces to relax and take breaks will result in enhanced performance, happiness and satisfaction. When people perform at their best individually, they feed into the collective more effectively. The environment needs to meet collective needs too though so spaces to work, meet, collaborate and socialise together are essential. The aim is to harness knowledge and  information sharing in an intuitive way which happens naturally rather than being forced.

2. What requirements do offices have to meet today to be attractive to Generation Z at all? Which factors are decisive in your opinion?

We are seeing signs of a shift within the Generation Z demographic since the pandemic. For some, being in the office and around experienced people to learn from is going to be vitally important. We are likely to see them want to be in the office for their professional development but the office needs to support this and not drive isolated working. We also note that social circles are closely linked to co-workers so spaces that enhance these experiences are important. However, this is also a generation that is seeking flexibility in how they work. They might want to spend some time working remote or non-standard hours to meet personal lifestyle requirements. They will want to develop some personal skills alongside professional ones. The offering in this regard from an employer is likely to be a key factor in whether you attract and retain this generation of workers.

3. On the other hand: which influences play the most important role for the aging workforce?

We note that the older of the generations are the least likely to be looking for alternative employment compared to the other generations in the workplace. However, it is noted that they are planning retirement which presents a challenge for many businesses in the longer term as there is likely to be a knowledge gap with their exit. It is important for the workplace and ways of working to align and meet the needs of the aging workforce. For example, this generation needs to pass knowledge to others so spaces to support mentoring and collaboration are needed. Spaces that allow quiet relaxation and focus are particularly important to them but practical elements such as easy to use technology and accessibility should not be overlooked.

4. You gave a talk at the Clerkenwell Design Week last week in our showroom in London. In your presentation you made it clear that equality, diversity, and inclusion should be an organisational priority. Why is that?

The groups most likely to consider leaving their current role are those with disabilities and caring responsibilities. It is important that their views and needs are considered when an employer is making decisions in future. If we did see these groups start to leave, it is a step backwards for many businesses. Research shows that there are many benefits to a diverse and inclusive working such as higher revenue growth, greater readiness to innovate, increased ability to recruit a diverse talent pool and 5.4 times higher employee retention. So while most businesses say they have a D&I policy in place, in reality only around 10% of them have workplaces that reflect this adequately.

Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft Hannah Nardini Clerkenwell Design Week Sedus London

5. What does sustainability in the office mean to you – where does it start and where does it end?

Sustainability is used in lots of different contexts but such as ‘making the business financially sustainable’ but for me, it refers to the impact a business, it’s operation and people has on the environment. Every person in the office has to play their part but for a business, it should become part of their cultural narrative to ensure it comes part of their accepted norms. Some basic starting points should be to using technology and sensors to lower energy consumptions, encourage people to turn electrical equipment off, using mugs and plates that can be washed instead of disposed and encouraging green travel such as cycling, walking, public transport or worst case, car sharing.

6. And last but not least – a look into the future: How will we work in 2030?

As the past 2 years has demonstrated, no one can possibly predict what is going to happen. But we are looking at a number of scenarios where climate change is at a critical point and how/where we work becomes part of the control mechanisms, wellness, diversity and inclusion becomes an operational priorities, the changing demographics in the workplace force change and the emergence of the metaverse. All of these are already on the radar but businesses should start to consider the impact of these elements and plan for future change, whatever that will inevitably be.

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