Navigating the future of work and the workplace

  • 25 Aug 2023
As part of our significant research collaboration to define the new generation of workplace and office product for a changed market, Lendlease’s Place Futures team recently brought together customers, industry partners and its subject matter experts to understand what is shaping the future of work and workplace in a series of thought-provoking panel events.

We investigated five ‘future of work’ themes: sustainability, health and wellbeing, global uncertainty, advancing technologies, and community trust.

Addressing the challenges connected to these macro themes requires a willingness and appetite for interdisciplinary collaboration, and further exploration of insights that have emerged to date.

Our leaders need more support

“Leaders have been under-invested in for some time.” – Alice Drew, General Manager Place Futures

Leadership today is more nuanced and challenged than ever before with an ageing and increasingly diverse workforce who have unique requirements and preferences, and who are embracing hybrid working in their own ways. As we enter a time where we will have five generations in the workplace, leaders need a much more tailored approach.

Leaders have not received the investment in their development and the capabilities required to meet this new model of leadership, and require greater organisational support in order to support their increasingly diverse teams to build resilience and perform at their best.

It won’t be long until younger generations make up the majority of the workforce, and their career expectations are very different

By 2030, Generation Z and Alpha will make up 45% of the Australian workforce, and a Gen Z entering the workforce in 2023 is anticipated to have 18 jobs and 6 careers over their lifetime (Source: McCrindle). Anecdotally, we’ve heard of a mindset shift towards shorter term thinking around the lifecycle of a job, with younger generations no longer considering staying in a role longer than five years.

A positive organisational purpose is critical to attracting talent

“Younger people are sick of the adults talking endlessly about the issues that are important to them, rather than taking action.” – Wendy Geitz, Manager FutureSteps

With higher job mobility, organisations may be required to view their decision making with a values-based lens. Younger people want to see organisations taking meaningful action on issues they consider important, and are far more likely to work for an employer who demonstrates genuine commitment to ESG. Over 50% of Gen Z and Millennials will research an employer’s ESG impact and policies before accepting an offer (Source: Deloitte’s Global 2023 GenZ survey). To attract emerging talent, organisations will need to consider how they prioritise and communicate a values-driven collective mission.

Work preferences aren’t just generational, they’re also influenced by role types and personality

Young people are more likely to be front-line workers or junior in tenure and are often missing out on mentoring and observational learning from older talent who have the experience required to carry out their role in a flexible way and may not be as present in the workplace. Younger generations record a higher preference for flexibility; however, they also report better experiences when they can connect with peers and colleagues. 

Experience-driven workplaces that focus on creating engaging and meaningful interactions could provide a positive effect on productivity and engagement levels. In doing so, businesses would benefit from fostering high levels of trust and cross-team collaboration to drive innovation and growth, with leaders fostering inclusiveness and mentorship in their teams.

People are lonelier than ever, and the workplace has an important role in bringing people together

The workplace is not just the built environment, it also plays an important cultural function in supporting mental health. It can and should help support and engage, provide inclusive spaces for meaningful interaction, create a sense of purpose, comfort, psychological safety and social connection.

Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing indicates that 18 to 24-year-olds are the loneliest of all surveyed age groups. Organisations should remain cognisant of the growing concern around loneliness and the pivotal role they can play in addressing this pressing issue. In London, Lendlease has partnered with the Loneliness Lab to align on the mission to design out loneliness from our cities. 

There is an opportunity for organisations to position their workplaces as a social domain designed to nurture, support, and meaningfully connect their people. To achieve this, organisations can cultivate a strong sense of collective purpose, intentionality in connecting people through social spaces and activities, and creating a sense of belonging and community through routine practices.

The horse has bolted on personal data security, but people are still optimistic about opportunities for how data can improve their experiences

There is more data collected about us than ever before, and cyber security is an increasing priority in Australia, with a 13% increase the last two years in the number of incidents (Source: ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report) and a number of recent high-profile breaches.
However, capturing and using data in the built environment through smart buildings, management systems, digital twin, IoT and sensors can improve the individual experience, building and workplace performance, and the design of future places.

Perceptions of data range from the dystopian views of ‘my identity is already out there’, ‘my data is too far gone’, and ‘it’s not just about our data, it’s about our voice’; through to utopian views of how we can leverage data in a tailored, helpful and constructive way to make a difference to people’s daily work lives. New generations entering the workforce may expect reforms in cyber security and resilience with advancing technology.

The four-day work week is the dream, although there is cynicism about how achievable it might be

Advocates for a four-day work week promote condensed work schedules lead to an enhanced work-life balance, increased efficiencies in productivity and greater employee satisfaction. On the flip side, others have voiced concerns in industries where a condensed four-day work week may not be compatible, such as with customer demand, team dynamics and burnout. In some cases, this has eventuated in working five days in a four-day work week.

The four-day work week is already showing signs of becoming a major factor in talent attraction and retention, with many organisations who have adopted this work model being recognised as an employer of choice.

Closing remarks

We look forward to sharing more insights with you throughout this extensive research collaboration, as we embark on reimagining the next generation of commercial precincts and impact on both our industry and customers.