But a new report by Mirvac and WORKTECH Academy claims that workplaces of the future will see the rise of so-called “super-experiences”, which blend technology, design and biophilia to create distinctive workplace experiences.
One example is The Spheres in Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, where an indoor rainforest sits within three glass domes, containing 40,000 individual plants from across the world. Work spaces and meeting spots are set among the gardens for Amazon’s employees.
The biophilic design was used to create a link to nature for the office, as well as an environment for the tech giant’s staff to collaborate and innovate.
And in the San Francisco headquarters of Salesforce, a 32m-long digital wall consisting of more than 7 million pixels displays high-resolution moving graphics of the Californian Redwood National Forest and a running waterfall.
“Awe-inspiring experiences are discussed in the light of a body of scientific research suggesting that creating a sense of awe has many benefits in the workplace, and an array of new sound, light and sensor technologies bringing theatrical practices and sensations to the office,” the report wrote.
Improving the overall experience at work has been considered a priority in the efforts to attract and retain talent.
“Super-experiences can make you feel excited or that you’ve achieved something; they can stimulate curiosity, create a sense of purpose or instil a sense of belonging. These emotional reactions drive positive interactions for employees and the businesses they work for,” Mirvac’s General Manager of Workplace Experiences Paul Edwards said.
“With the rise of artificial intelligence automating data-driven jobs, ‘super-experiences’ will play an increasing role in boosting performance on imaginative, empathic and creative types of work to future-proof the workforce.”
A Deloitte survey in 2017 found that while 80 percent of executives saw employee experience to be very important or important, only 22 percent believe their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.
Mr Edwards said themes that contribute to the employee experience need to be given higher priority.
“In the past, the property industry and wider business world has put physical assets before people, and hard metrics around space and infrastructure before softer issues of behaviour, perception and belonging. That needs to change,” he said.
“Mirvac is currently working on a range of unique projects that reflect this new approach including an experience master-plan for Suncorp Australia’s headquarters at 80 Ann Street, Brisbane, as well as curated, cultural and learning based experiences at South Eveleigh in Redfern.”
Curating experiences is one way to boost the social factor at work, particularly when employers deliberately arrange opportunities to bring people together.
One example is the growing emphasis on the “bump factor”, where social encounters at work are engineered through the architectural layout of the office to increase the chance of colleagues "bumping" into each other around the workplace. Employees are encouraged to move around and meet colleagues from different departments and the encounters are often measured using data analytics.
Mirvac’s EY Centre in Sydney features staircases through the middle of their office floors to open up teams for cross-departmental and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
The Mirvac report also notes the rise in specialist coworking spaces that are designed for specific professional skills and industry sectors - a form of curating the workplace experience.
This is already happening in Australia, with Melbourne’s Worksmith coworking space targeted at workers in the hospitality industry. It includes niche features such as a drinks lab for beverage experimenting and preparation as well as a communal commercial kitchen.
Cover Photo: Amazon’s staff can work within the mini indoor rainforest at the company’s Seattle headquarters. (Photo: Amazon)