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 helps bring the best of Deloitte to clients to ensure that they put innovation, technology & their teams at the heart of every solution. With over 23 years of experience, he has been fortunate to work on multiple global experience & design projects, combining service & spatial design with technology. Devising connected channel solutions, where he helps not only create a better experience for customers & employees, but also improve the bottom line & ensure that we develop sustainable outcomes that allow us to develop a better future for everyone. As the National Market & Impact leader and lead Sydney consulting Partner, his role is all about connecting our Partners and clients. As well as working with our Industry & capability leaders to ensure that we bring the best of Deloitte to our clients, every time. Having worked across many industry sectors, his primary focus has been in Consumer & Retail with a secondary focus on Financial Services. He is also the leader of Deloitte Digital practice in Sydney, where he works with the other Partners to help them solve customer related challenges alongside our alliance partners, where we develop unique teams of designers, developers & strategists to innovate and solve our clients’ most complex problems. He is very proud to be the national leader for StandOUT Australia and believes that everyone should be able to bring their whole self to work every day, so as the spokesperson for the LGBT+ community in Deloitte, he advocates for a more inclusive workplace.

Sue Solly

Sue Solly

Director, Consulting

Sue Solly leads the spatial community of practice in Deloitte Digital’s Experience Design team, which works with organizations globally to redefine workplace, retail, and learning experiences. She is a spatial strategist and interior architect with 25 years’ experience leading project teams in the design and delivery of workplace, education, and retail spaces. She has a passion for working on projects that transform the user experience by aligning space, technology, people, policy, and culture to improve business and individual performance.

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.