by Peter Johns
HR Monthly (Australia)
The August 2011 issue of HR Monthly magazine features an article that investigates contemporary office design and identifying what staff really need in the workplace.
The article notes that, "Office design in 2011 is as varied as the design of buildings into which the offices are fitted. Priorities and motivations vary between developers, tenants and architects." Many companies are making the shift towards campus-style accommodation, driven by lower land prices and the need to enable employees to communicate more effectively with each other.
One of the buildings featured in the article is SA Water House, which combined its three metropolitan sites in Adelaide into one purpose-built central city building in 2009. The design of the building responded to the change of culture that was taking place within the organisation. The office became completely open plan, enabling communication, collaboration and working across boundaries.
Rob Backhouse, Managing Director of HASSELL, emphasises in the article that the culture change process ideally starts before the building does, so that the design can then be the perfect avenue for expressing, "what the future of the business should look like."
Discussing research that indicates that open plan work spaces may not be favourable for everyone, Rob says that this types of offices are less of an issue if the work style of the organisation favours collaboration. Statistics show that in these sorts of environments, 50 per cent of employees are not at their desks, but rather have a greater choice of workspaces that they can use during their day.
Interestingly, the article also notes that since moving into the new premises, graduate interest in SA Water has increased dramatically, with the new building and change in culture contributing largely to the interest.—
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