Why Tech Companies Still Need an Office | Oktra
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  • Tech Companies Still Need an Office - Here's Why

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  • Companies across the globe are reassessing their office space and the way they use their workplaces to attract talent, build culture and drive innovation. There isn’t a sector that hasn’t had to consider how to enable remote working which has then sparked questions over the requirement of a physical office. However, tech companies have emerged from those debates as being overwhelmingly in favour of an office but it’s not for the lack of capability, in fact its far more foundational than that.

    Oktra Creative Director, Dominic Dugan believes the battle for talent in the tech sector is one of the key elements driving companies back into their offices: “Historically, large tech firms would only have to compete with each other for talent. Someone would leave University and go straight into Google or Facebook. Now organisations from a range of industries are competing for the same people, so they’ve got to make their workplace somewhere people want to work at – from the moment they walk through the door.”

    Two of the largest offices in London that are currently under construction, will soon house two of the biggest tech companies in the world. Google’s Landscraper in King’s Cross and Apple’s new behemoth at the Battersea Power Station shows that not only is office space important for tech companies, but it is also still a statement to have an iconic destination office. The office remains crucial to recruitment and retention, but its functionality and requirements have dramatically changed. But how do tech firms remain competitive across the board – from recruitment to employee performance?

    We’ve outlined the key elements of why office design is so important to tech companies.

  • What are the changes within the tech industry?

    During the pandemic, companies and their people had to adapt to working from home and implement remote strategies in a short space of time. While there has been pushback from some notable companies, Accenture’s 2021 Future of Work survey found that 83% of workers say a hybrid model would be optimal moving forward. This shift towards flexible working practices was already in the pipeline for many tech industries; COVID-19 only accelerated the manoeuvres.

  • New working models

    Compared with many traditional markets, this places the tech industry in the enviable position of being ready to move to hybrid working models and evaluate their property portfolios accordingly. Of course, these changes will not look the same for every organisation, but many of the challenges run parallel.

    A few of the issues currently faced by these new working models are maintaining social connections and company culture between employees, managing wellbeing and time-management, and monitoring performance. The office plays an influential role in enabling these changes because if companies want to alter work behaviours, improving the places they work in can make all the difference.

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  • Prioritisation of employee health and wellbeing

    In recent years there’s been an increasing focus on physical and mental health and wellbeing at work. Most forward-thinking companies have realised its importance and began taking active measures to ensure the safeguarding of their employees. However, the events of the past 18 months have, rightfully, hastened and amplified this conversation. In our information-driven world, tech companies stand at the forefront of collecting and reviewing data to understand how best their people work and what can be learnt from it.

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  • “It is really about creating an environment that makes them happier and more creative at the same time.”

    Julia Suiter, Facilities Manager at Eigen Technologies

    As the boundaries of the workplace expand outside of a singular office and into satellite spaces, coworking centres and employees’ homes, safety, health, and satisfaction will be the principal drivers to attracting and retaining talent – not to mention efficiencies within employee networks. The question as to how we can bring employees together again safely while providing spaces that allow them to feel healthy, included, and engaged is one that can begin to be answered through office design.

  • How can office design improve employee performance?

    As remote working remains a substantial desire for many employees, the office must work harder to attract people into the space. In this new world, the employee experience is as essential as customer engagement. The messages the environment sends can influence behaviours, impact wellbeing and have a push/pull effect on your company culture.

  • Culture is enabled by your workplace, but it can also visually demonstrate a connection between the business and its people. This is demonstrated in Photobox Group’s 37,000 sq ft headquarters in Farringdon where brightly colour-coded floors match the CMYK colours used in printing. These are amongst vast pieces of printing machinery and metal barriers that imitate camera film.

    From the moment of entering, these details help capture the essence of Photobox’s product and service offering – capturing moments and memories in print. As the group and office expand, the elements help generate a commonality and community vision for the brands under the group.

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  • Integrate tech and furniture design into your workplace strategy to support agility

    While nearly all businesses face internal communications challenges, tech companies often have a unique set of issues. While communication and collaboration are always most effective in person, it is still beneficial to create environments that don’t disturb, that are acoustically reviewed and form relaxed spaces, creativity and community come to the foreground.

    For example, the creative and collaborative activities in the tech industry, particularly agile practices and software development methods, require complex, team-based product management. And at the heart of effective product delivery is clear, precise and rapid communication.

    To achieve this, tech companies are adopting another element from school classrooms and the University campus – the reconfigurable environment. With a wide range of work settings from modular sofas, collaborative huddle spaces to private, bookable meeting rooms – employees have the flexibility to work based on their tasks. There is a need for these spaces to encourage independent autonomy while also supporting the rapid deployment of teams and workflow to respond to product changes in real-time.

  • The major difference between these education and commercial environments is the sophisticated technology incorporated within the spaces. Considering 83% of employees rely on technology for collaboration (Buffer – State of Remote Work 2019), the tools couldn’t be more crucial. From 4K screens and interactive whiteboards to power and data integration within seating, this technology (when leveraged with a strong workplace strategy) combines the functional principles of UI with the welcoming design elements of UX to help break open silos and encourage better performing collaborative environments.

     

  • Office design can solve issues that new tech can’t

    As a cautionary tale to the belief that virtual technology readily replaces face-to-face interaction, Doodle’s 2019 State of Meetings Report found that 76% of professionals prefer in-person meetings to telephone calls or video conferencing. We share these findings in our work, a prime example being trading SaaS company Trayport.

    A total of 25% of the floorplate was allocated to teamwork areas, while a range of breakout areas and a centralised coffee bar became the focal points for quick touchdown points. These are spaces built to encourage and amplify the human connection between Trayport’s teams while equally supporting those working remotely.

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  • “In-person conversations and intimate catch-ups are easy in the smaller start-up cultures. However, when these companies grow into larger organisations, work often involves an abundance of tech – from international calls, quick emails, Zoom meets; so how do you maintain the quality of those human connections?”

    Dominic Dugan, Oktra Creative Director

  • Want to understand your workplace? Your people have many of the answers.

    From understanding visual/acoustic issues and irritating floor plans to the best places for team discussions, the people who use the office are your best gauge for improving it. The only way of finding out these small but influential elements is by opening a dialogue. These questions are best asked as part of a coherent workplace strategy that consults your staff to find out what fits the types of activity and the people within the company. Unsure where to start? Let’s talk.

  • The Technology Lookbook

    We are experts in designing innovative workspaces for technology firms that support their business goals. Find out how we can help your business and who we have worked with.

    download now
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