What does the future hold for workplaces?

Words by Liam Higginbotham

Blurring the lines between work, home, and public spaces.

GroupGSA Principal Pablo Albani spoke on a panel of experts discussing the topic “Blurring the Lines Between Work, Home, and Public Spaces” at Interiors Australia + DENFAIR in Melbourne. Here, he speaks on his thoughts on this topic and his observations at Denfair.

This was the first major design event held in Victoria since the start of the pandemic. I was grateful to be asked to speak on this topic, as many of my clients are now shifting towards redefining the purpose of the office and have embraced the emergence of hybrid working.

As someone who hasn’t flown or attended one of these events for the past two years, I was struck by the number of attendees and those interested in the discussion. It was heartening listening to the conversations about human behaviour and navigating the workplace towards a stronger human-centric design.

The great interest in the panel talks also confirmed to me what we’ve been telling our clients who are in the process of defining the purpose of the office and the transition to a hybrid work model; humans (and the workforce) are more than ever yearning for the meaningful and personal connection that was present before the pandemic. We have lost the nuances in body language that help us read behaviours and moods and have missed the interpersonal relationships we established with our colleagues/friends. Equally, culture has taken a hit.

But current data and research tell us that not all is lost. So here is a thought…

Rethinking the physical environment as the inhibitor for interaction is one element, however it’s not the only factor that needs redefining. We also need to shift our thinking to understand the new cultural norms and values we want to promote. This will help reinforce new behaviours in the re-imagined office.  Then work on how to promote those behaviours in a hybrid model to create a shared purpose and deeper connections with and among the workforces.

Hybrid working is here to stay. It’s how we transition now to it that will determine the success in defining the purpose of the new workplace.

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Liam Higginbotham Author

Liam is a Principal and talented interior designer with experience in workplace, retail, aviation, education and hospitality.

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