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Healthcare trends shaping the hospital workplace of the future

The pandemic has made many of us more aware of how much we rely on our hospitals and our healthcare workers.

Workplace of the future
  • 3 Mar 2023
  • by
  • Lendlease Author Better Places

The pandemic has made many of us more aware of how much we rely on our hospitals and our healthcare workers. The last few years has been a difficult time for many of them, and we’re seeing healthcare spending increase as well as changes in models of care. The pandemic came at a time when we were already grappling with talent shortages in healthcare, and while we’re seeing our healthcare system getting better at diagnosing people and providing preventative care, it’s also meant there’s been an increase in the burden of chronic illness.

As a result of some of these changes, healthcare infrastructure and ways of working are changing. At Lendlease, we’ve been supporting some of our healthcare customers through workplace change, re-thinking how hospital staff can be better supported to do their incredibly valuable work and ultimately get better outcomes for patients and families.

Hospital workplaces are very different to commercial environments, and we’ve identified some healthcare trends to make sure our workplace strategies are providing the best possible working environment.

Multidisciplinary teaming

The days of the hierarchical relationship between doctor and supporting staff in the hospital are long gone. Now the focus is on multidisciplinary teams of staff specialists, nurses, and Allied Health professionals coming together to collaborate and provide holistic care to their patients and better support families. Multidisciplinary teams need both formal and informal collaboration spaces and easy access to each other for quick decision making.

Consultation spaces

In the past, enclosed offices would be the main workspace for a staff member as well as where patient consultations happened. Now, hospitals are providing purpose-built rooms for patient consultations, with separate staff workspaces. These workspaces are the 'backstage' areas, away from patients and families. This provides a better experience for patients away from the clutter and conversations of other staff. It’s also easier for staff who are more easily able to manage confidentiality and privacy, and collaborate and socialise more freely with colleagues.

Tele- and virtual health

The trend towards greater provision of tele-health and virtual health services began prior to COVID-19, but was fast-tracked through the pandemic. This has been tough for a lot of healthcare workers who haven’t had access to private and confidential spaces, and we know giving them easy access to purpose-built spaces to make these calls is high on the priority list.

Translational research

Australia is a world leader in medical research, but we struggle to get this research into clinical care. Hospitals have often lacked the space and resources to bring researchers inhouse, which would make applying medical research easier. Lots of research staff are ‘soft funded’ through grants and contracts, or through collaborations and partnerships with external research organisations, rather than being a permanent team member. Providing workspace for researchers to sit and work with clinical teams and designing spaces for displaying and celebrating research in the workspace are some of the ways the ‘bench to bedside’ journey can be accelerated.

Adaptability and resiliency

The oldest hospital in Australia dates back to 1788, and hospitals are always built with a long lifecycle in mind. Unlike the commercial sector where lease expiries often prompt fitout and workplace changes, hospitals may see little change for decades. This means it’s even more important to think about the longevity of the backstage workspaces. We’ve been looking into how spaces can be multi-function and highly flexible in design, and modular spaces that may be easily adapted in the future. The pandemic also highlighted the need for easily adaptable furniture and work areas to accommodate social distancing and hygiene requirements, which has been a real challenge for most hospitals over the last few years.

Staff health and wellbeing
Globally, the healthcare profession is struggling with staff retention. The pandemic put a huge amount of pressure on hospital staff, with many working long hours in a highly stressful environment. While staff have been so focused on providing care to their patients, their own health and wellbeing sometimes get put on the backburner. Providing a working environment which is full of natural light and plants, has spaces for quiet moments and respite, and brings people together for social connection can help manage some of these stressors.

While the primary priority of a hospital is to provide patient care, we want to make sure the needs of staff are prioritised as well.

Workplace of the future