Posted: 14 Mar. 2021 3 min. read

The future of workplace

Re-opening our workplaces to recover and thrive through the COVID pandemic

In March 2020, thousands of Australian businesses were asked to work virtually as COVID-19 transformed what, how, when, and where we work. This transformation fuelled by macro-economic drivers and an explosion in technology not only shifted present but future expectations of employees, with 75% of employees now wanting to continue work in a hybrid way.

Yet, the flexibility of the virtual workplace and the speed at which it has been acted on hasn’t come without compromises; learning & coaching, collaboration & ideation, social connectedness & community, mental health & wellbeing have all been impacted.

Understanding the impact of these compromises now creates an opportunity to leverage the learnings we have taken from virtual working and purposefully design a new hybrid of virtual and physical work environments.

So, what does the future of the workplace look like?

The leap into virtual ways of working has highlighted how our workplaces are more than just physical offices, they are the digital channels we use to collaborate and the places we feel most comfortable.

In the future the workplace will be seen as an overarching ecosystem that includes the home office, virtual office, physical workplace hub, distributed offices, and any other places where an employee may choose to work anywhere, anytime while they are on the go. This ecosystem approach will fundamentally reframe the way we approach property portfolios and workforce strategies creating greater access to a wider geographic pool of talent.

As such we will see the role of the workplace shift, as individual work continues to occur remotely and dispersed teaming becomes normalised. The future workplace will be primarily about human face-to-face activities – collaboration & ideation, client engagement, social and relationship building, and access to unique or specialist amenities. Individual work will become a secondary function of the workplace experience with an increase in uptake for touchdown and teaming activities.

How might we approach the return to the workplace?

We need to look at the workplace ecosystem holistically – space, technology, process, policy, culture, behaviour. We will need to shape the ecosystem with a human-centred design approach understanding work and worker needs to inform workplace requirements.

The success of the future workplace will be reliant on the development of new guidelines and spatial etiquette to foster inclusive behaviours and develop new cultural norms around how we can work effectively. Key to this will include shifting mindsets, upskilling teams, and leaders in hybrid management practice teams to ensure there’s a base of technological competency (when and how to use it) with an understanding of how to engage in a virtual world.

Ultimately, we must embrace this time of uncertainty with an iterative and empathetic mindset to learn, adapt and evolve not only with the pace of change but with the hearts and minds of our people, clients & community.

To read more on the approach download the full ‘The future of the workplace’ report now.

The Future of Workplace Report

Meet our authors

Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson

Partner, Consulting

Robbie leads the Apple alliance relationship for Deloitte nationally, and is an Experience Design Partner in the Consulting practice, based in Sydney. He is also Deloitte’s Virtual Office Managing Partner. Robbie has a passion for fusing human-centred design and business to facilitate transformation programs with clients. With 22 years’ experience, he has worked on multiple global design projects, combining service design with spatial and digital strategies to create omni channel solutions. A key differentiator for Robbie and his team is to bring customers and employees into the heart of the design process to help rapidly prototype ideas and ensure that the successful ideas turn into robust, financially successful concepts. Robbie has worked across many industry sectors with a keen focus in financial services, telco, automotive and retail. Robbie is also the national leader for Deloitte’s LGBTI Network ‘GLOBE’ in Australia. He sits on the Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing Council for Deloitte, as well as the advisory board for ACON and is a board member for Wear It Purple. As Deloitte’s most senior ‘Out role model’ Robbie strongly believes that all our people should be able to bring their whole self to work every day, advocating for a more inclusive workplace for all our people.

Sue Solly

Sue Solly

Director, Consulting

Sue leads the spatial community of practice in Deloitte Digital’s Experience Design team who work with organisations globally to redefine workplace, retail and learning experiences. With over 25 years’ experience working in the architectural industry leading project teams in the development of spatial strategies and design solutions she is interested in the integration of people, technology and space to create seamless, human centered omnichannel solutions that support business strategy. Her recent area of focus has been on reinventing the workplace experience in response to the rapid adoption of virtual work practices, shifting employee expectations and changes in workplace demand. She views the workplace as a virtual and physical ecosystem and works co-creatively with clients to understand what hybrid working means for them and to develop strategies for technology and workspace that support dispersed teaming, purposeful human engagement and redefines the role of physical space and property portfolio archetypes.

Emily White

Emily White

Manager, Consulting

Emily works at the integration of human centred design, business strategy and innovation. Her purpose is to not only de-risk investment in organisational initiatives, but to positively impact and prepare society for our unknown future ahead. As such she is able to craft experience strategies and design interventions that enable the strategic growth of a business through tactile cues across key moments that matter. Working across workplace, retail, innovation labs and branded physical and digital experiences, she immerses herself in the market, the business and its people to understand the complexities of the stakeholder eco-system and identify the opportunities for positive change. With this approach, she firmly believes in the power of design and business to challenge assumptions, influence future behaviours and shape new cultural norms. Most recently, Emily has been particularly focused on the ‘Future of Work’, re-defining what work means in a post-covid world and how to leverage the best of physical experience and virtual practice. Key this has been exploring organisational resiliency, identifying how businesses can thrive both now and into the future with an iterative mindset.