Creating activity based spaces that encourage employee engagement and collaboration via seamless technological integration continues to shape the workplace
However, in the 2016 Dell and Intel Future Workforce Study, 44% of employees are of the view that their workplace is not “smart” enough. Additionally, more than 50% of employees expect to be engaged in “smart” workplaces within the next five years. Businesses that have not considered upgrading their offices may have to realign their priorities when it comes to meeting the expectations of new talent.
By cleverly integrating the latest technologies into an office fit-out, employees can feel more creative, productive and engaged. A study by Steelcase and Microsoft has shown that the creativity process requires diverse work modes as well as different types of technology. Whether working alone or in groups, activity based working demands a need for a range of devices that are mobile and integrated into the physical workplace.
Recently, in partnership with Design Worldwide Partnership, Summertown completed the fit-out of the Smart Dubai office – the headquarters of Dubai’s tech-led Smart City initiative. Smart Dubai wanted innovative technology in their workplace that embraced their core values and mission to establish Dubai as the most efficient, seamless, safe and impactful experience for residents and visitors.
The office was designed to encourage collaboration via cleverly integrated sharable ‘digital spaces’. Meeting rooms featured seamless connectivity with multiple devices and writable walls to help foster creativity and productivity. Additional technology installed included a virtual unmanned reception, a café with a curved LED screen to broadcast live feeds of social media and events, an auditorium with flexible seating and quiet zones where employees can choose to work thanks to 24/7 wireless connectivity.
The technology integrated in the Smart Dubai office is a prime example of the UAE leadership’s commitment to becoming one of the world’s best connected cities. As new technologies and working habits continue to transform traditional workplaces, designers, architects and workspace solution providers will have to work together to introduce these principles into projects to increase user satisfaction and productivity.
What is collaboration in business? The definition of collaboration from the Oxford Dictionary is “The action of working with someone to produce something.” But in business it is more likely to be working with someone outside your team, and potentially with different expertise to achieve a common goal or product. Organisations are now reaching beyond their internal employees and collaborating with external partners to achieve their goals.
Harvard Business Review surveyed business leaders worldwide about how collaboration is changing with their organisations
- 72% say “effective team communication” has become more important over the past 2 years
- 54% are investing in easier-to-use collaboration solutions
- 64% report that collaboration with external parties has increased in importance
During our 20 years in business we have supported and collaborated with our industry architects, designers, suppliers and project managers to create high quality interior solutions for our clients. We have also collaborated with industry groups like the Dubai Chamber of Commerce who has helped guide us on our CSR journey, and The US Green Building Council (USGBC) to achieve our LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and LEED EBOM (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) certifications. Without external collaboration with other likeminded businesses we could not meet our client’s expectations or achieve our ‘green’ and CSR goals.
In 2017 Summertown is extending our collaboration with external partners to form a global alliance – The United Workplace Group – which is a much more formal external partnership.
The United Workplace is a network of likeminded businesses, sharing a passion for the workplace– inspiring design, innovation and a culture of collaboration underpins everything we do. All members share common ethics, values and goals bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. The fundamental goal of The United Workplace is to provide consistency of service and local insight on a global scale- to fulfil your workplace design, fit-out or commercial furniture consultancy and installation needs.
Globalisation is accelerating and having the ability to link businesses, exchange best practices and share knowledge is seen as a distinct advantage. The United Workplace consists of a handpicked collection of businesses selected in recognition that each country and market has specific requirements.
Summertown is very excited to be part of The United Workplace Group and we will share more details in the coming months.
Contributed by Sally Jones, Marketing Manager
It is not new news that having happy and engaged employees is good for business; CEOs and business leaders have been advocating this message for many years.
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson, CEO & Founder of Virgin Group.
What is evolving is that global leaders and governments are now incorporating happiness initiatives into their policies decisions and strategic plans.
In 1976 the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced the term Gross National Happiness – a philosophy that governments should govern for the happiness and well-being of its people. However, happiness measures and initiatives have only really grown momentum with other global governments and leaders in the last 10 years.
In 2012 the United Nations produced the first World Happiness Report. Recognition of this report has increased in the last 5 years by governments and organisations, leading to many happy indicators being incorporated in to policy decisions and plans. In 2017 the UN World Happiness report included an analysis of happiness in the workplace. The report states that “recent research suggests that high levels of worker wellbeing may even lead to gains in productivity and firm performance, a finding that points toward the benefits of engaging in what might be called ‘high-road’ employment strategies conducive to employee wellbeing.” (United Nations Word Happiness Report https://youtu.be/Se2gfFKp1Iw)
In 2016 the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum appointed Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi as the country’s first Minister of State for Happiness. This appointment is unprecedented and exemplifies the new paradigm of governments and global leaders incorporating happiness into policies and decisions.
The UAE’s vision is “To be among the happiest countries in the world,” and one of its core objectives is to incentivise entities “both public and private, to launch and champion initiatives, projects, and policies to achieve happiness and positivity in society.” (https://www.happy.ae/en/discover-why)
According to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s World Happiness Report, the UAE is ranked the happiest Arab country and 21st globally – a prime sign of progress after the adoption of a happiness charter by government departments. Moving forward, the country has set a goal to enter the top five happiest countries in the world under its Vision 2021 objectives.
At Summertown, we strongly believe that the strength of our company lies within our team, and that we have both an ethical and corporate responsibility to create and support a happy workplace. We are delighted that the UAE government has recognized that happiness is such an important initiative for its people, and one we will continue to embrace and practice. We believe one of the key drivers for people to be happy at work is to create a workplace environment that is conducive to happiness. Happiness of an organisation’ s people includes the workplace itself – the work or office space, and the leadership and support provided for employee wellbeing and wellness.
One of our key business pillars is to enable our clients to create ‘inspiring workplaces to enhance employee health and happiness’, and we strive to practice this in our own workplace by adopting and implementing our CSR initiatives. These include wellness workshops, promoting healthy eating and lifestyle activities.
After all – a happy person is a productive person.