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Workplace trends and corporate culture

Workplace trends: Is your corporate culture keeping up?

From personal workspace to open staircases and video gaming, companies are rethinking how and where their employees work. Does your workplace give you a competitive edge?


Mobility versus routine. Distraction versus focus. Command-and-control management versus employee choice. As corporate cultural battles play out, workplaces have become the battleground, with outcomes increasingly dependent on worker engagement, health, well-being and a sense of belonging or purpose.

Employers that maintain a traditional view of this otherwise radically shifting landscape risk losing their competitive edge, along with their ability to attract and retain key talent, new JLL research shows.

"We can regard work and the workplace in the usual ways…or we can embrace the types of leadership and management styles that will spell the difference between survival and extinction for many of today's enterprises," advises Bernice Boucher, managing director and lead of JLL's Global Workplace Strategy Group in the Americas.

JLL identified 14 workplace trends that could spell success—or failure—for companies in 2014 and beyond. In this first of a three-part series, here are five trends that affect how people live and operate in their work environment.

  1. Gaming at work? Baby boomers may not stop to consider it, but young adults entering the workforce have a digital-era edge: video gaming. Technology companies already know how games powered by 3D-simulated reality engines enhance high-speed decision-making.

    Arol Wolford, CEO of SmartBIM, has developed visual information modeling, based on 3D-simulated gaming engines. His new venture, VIMtrek, offers the first tool for building owners, investors, architects, contractors and occupants to view a facility on a collaborative, open and data-rich platform. VIMtrek creates a high level of project management transparency for new buildings and can be used for facility management, retrofits, expansions and dispositions.

  2. Let workers decide. When employees can choose how to do their work, companies grow at four times their average rate. Companies that provide a balanced, well-designed choice of focus vs. collaborative workspace, along with flexible options like tele-work, will be more productive, competitive and profitable.

    A recent study by the Hay Group showed that employee retention is 50 percent higher in enterprises where knowledge workers feel like they belong, clearly understand their roles and can play to their strengths.


  3. The end of command-and-control. Failure to pull rather than push employee engagement is a key reason why the shelf life of S&P 500 companies is now only 12 years. Bottom-up will prevail over top-down, as critical thinking, rapid decision-making and the scaling up of innovation spur productivity.

    Companies that give their employees an active voice in the change process and are building a sense of "agency" also constantly exceed revenue expectations and have earnings that are at least four times greater than companies pushing instead of pulling their employees to innovate more. See: The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.

  4. Soaring demand for health and wellness. "Sitting is the new smoking," as a 2012 report by the National Institute of Health warned. "Companies need to support more movement in the workplace," said Boucher. "Office settings can be designed to encourage more circulation to get people up and walking around, which is not only good for productivity, it's good for your health."

    In New York, The Hearst Corporation Tower features staggered elevator access requiring employees and visitors to use stairways for a limited number of floors. In its Sydney, Australia, headquarters, Westpac Bank installed open staircases between floors to encourage more circulation and interaction.

  5. Return to the city. Urban centers will continue to draw companies that want to attract younger workers seeking progressive work settings and the appeal of an urban lifestyle, including public transit, walking, biking, night life, airports, universities, museums, health care and more.

    As young talent migrates into the city, companies like Cisco are adjusting their location strategies, often with retrofitted, smaller-scale work centers. Technology and portability can transform any urban space into a workplace, making the idea of "going to the office" a thoughtful decision rather than an automatic "given." What will drive personal location decisions will be access to compelling physical and emotional experiences.

    But the trend also extends to people who are approaching or in retirement and who, like the Millennial generation, favor the urban environment's combination of live, work and play. "As technology continues to break down distance and time boundaries, distinctions will blur between work and play, personal life and paid-for production," said Keith Perske, senior director of workplace innovation at Johnson & Johnson.​