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As the global workplace is being reshaped, design will begin to place more emphasis on choreographing the movement of occupants. Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some of Dubai’s most popular features are its infrastructure, spacious malls, and forward-thinking smart city technology. It is an example of rapid urban transformation.

Teeming malls and multi-storey office towers are certainly important features of a country’s focus. However, some of the most notable trends have as much to do with people and ideas as they do with space and objects.

While the present climate engenders quite a bit of uncertainty, it is our view that the pandemic has only highlighted the areas where companies would be right to focus - wellbeing, flexibility and the adoption of present and future technologies to reduce frictions and increase efficiency and connectedness.

Much of the business world was already moving toward a decentralized model; the pandemic has only accelerated some of these. The future workplace will be more fluid and digitized, one that can answer multiple requirements with single, one-stop solutions.

Ditch the proximity

The current environment is characterized by fast and frequent change. While increased space is important, the need for space to collaborate and innovate is just as important. Government regulation is mandating a 2-metre distance during meetings, which also means that hot desks and open office plans with individuals sitting close to one another may be a thing of the past.

No space downsizing

Previous trends of firms looking to decrease office space may see the opposite trend taking hold due to the need for increased space between employees’ workspaces and within meeting rooms. As businesses adapt, office spaces need to accommodate changes to the number of employees working within the office daily.

Some offices in Dubai have been proactive in reducing the number of desks within the office, given employees are working from home, and using the extra space to increase meeting and conference room space with respect to the distancing guidelines.

More leeway

Generally, the opportunities for companies to remain agile in allocating or reallocating office space, and for start-ups to have the ability to scale up quickly is important for landlords and tenants to consider.

As physical workplaces need to remain changeable, the increased flexibility of employees themselves is important. With the ability for employees to either work from a workspace at home or an alternative location, an office can be temporarily transformed if need be.

As the global workplace is being reshaped, design will begin to place more emphasis on choreographing the movement of occupants. Attitudes towards the physical workplace are being constantly challenged to be more flexible and collaborative.

And in order to prepare businesses for tomorrow, we must understand the attitudes and behaviours that will be driving the society of the future and with that, how the workplace shapes the culture and environments.

So, while the future workplace may include more automation, it’s crucial we strengthen and invest in the human elements of our work.

- Gabriella De La Torre, Director for Consulting at CBRE.