04/12/2019 - 09:48

Designers hot on agile workplaces

04/12/2019 - 09:48

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Landlords and office tenants are continuing to set new standards for office accommodation, with an interior design-driven focus on amenity, comfort and flexible working arrangements increasingly becoming the norm across the city.

Designers hot on agile workplaces
MKDC’s fitout for the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation provides several working options. Photo: MKDC

Integrating technology and flexible working arrangements have been top of mind for interior office designers in 2019.

Landlords and office tenants are continuing to set new standards for office accommodation, with an interior design-driven focus on amenity, comfort and flexible working arrangements increasingly becoming the norm across the city.

Recent research from JLL showed tenants in Perth had taken a measured approach to office accommodation in recent years, focusing on maximising the use of existing space as the city’s vacancy rate begins to trend downwards.

JLL’s Tenant Trends Australia report said tenants in Perth were seeking to improve their space utilisation to accommodate their staff or allow for expansion within an existing space.

MKDC director Kathleen Kusinski told Business News that agile working – providing employees with flexible working arrangements in the name of productivity – was a hot topic at the design agency throughout 2019.

“One of the things we have been undertaking a lot in the last 12 months is doing utilisation studies for clients who are looking at adopting a level of agility within their office,” Ms Kusinski said.

“And in order to present that to their board, we have been undertaking a lot of studies of workplaces, offices and meeting rooms so they can get the mix right.

“The go-to word is still collaboration, and we have continued to incorporate what we call an agile-ready environment or a hybrid agility model.

“This is putting in all of the collaboration areas, giving one desk to each member of staff, but providing all of the focus pods and all of the other areas and lockers that would support a totally agile model going forward in the future.”

Ms Kusinski said while negative sentiment around the efficacy of agile workplaces had emerged in recent months from companies that had adopted the model, those complaints had largely been because the right environments had not been developed.

“One of the things that we’re finding is where there are issues is workers haven’t been given good focus areas or good quiet areas,” Ms Kusinski said.

“With collaboration and agility, you have to be able to provide people with quiet areas to work in, and companies and government need to have policies around focus areas.

“There are still a lot of good learnings that can be shared with companies on really making a more agile or activity-based model work.”

MKDC is ranked fourth on the BNiQ list of WA’s largest interior designers.

Outside of smarter workspaces, interior designers have been focusing on integrating digital technology into office fitouts, with cloud-based services, smart building Internet of Things devices and data analysis on the top of tenants’ wishlists.

JLL head of flex and urban ecosystems Gavin Philips said office owners and landlords were increasingly collaborating with tenants on the optimal office design.

“It’s the perfect way to prototype new technology assumptions,” Mr Philips said.

“Ensuring what goes live solves real problems, rather than perceived opportunities, this approach should increase take-up.

“It’s putting human beings at the centre of design and it’s massively important.”

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