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REaL Lounge: The Perfect Workplace Does Not Exist!

With Philip Tidd, Principal/Director of Gensler Germany, we were able to win an internationally renowned expert on workplaces for our first REaL Lounge of the year.

Our auditorium was filled to capacity at the first Real Estate & Leadership Lounge of the year. The theme of the evening was "The Workplace Paradox: Creating Human-Centered Workplaces in a Hyper-connected World" and with Philip Tidd, Principal / Director at Gensler Germany, we were able to win an internationally recognised expert for the presentation. And in the first minutes of his speech, he alreday made clear that the working world is changing faster than ever. Old rules and conventions can no longer be upheld. There is a need to rethink the definition of the workplace while at the same time not forgetting human needs. In a great example, Philip Tidd  pointed out that many of us rarely have their best ideas in the office. Most come to us in nature or quite profane in the shower.

In times when many of us could do their work from home, it is time to think about why people should even still go to the office. According to Philip, there are four components that play an important role and need to be kept in mind: focus, collaboration, learning and socialising - and these are exactly the components that should support and promote the modern office and workplace of today. Digitalisation does not automatically lead to more productivity, it can even have a negative effect if the work environment does not support the work on hand. Not effectiveness is what should be measured, but rather creativity, innovation and productivity. After Philip's lecture it was clear: a mindset change is necessary - but this must be supported by new working concepts!

After such an interesting talk, we used the change to ask Philip Tidd a few more questions on this highly discussed and very current topic.

What does the perfect workplace look like?
First of all, I do not think there is anything such as the perfect workplace but I think one that is completely built around the human needs, so one that is very much human-centric. One that is focused on what brings people together. What is the thing that attracts people to come together in a physical space when we are now living in a world of complete digitalisation? In a digital world the meaning of place is even more important. The office is the one opportunity you have to actually manifest the culture of your organization and create a space which symbolizes your organization and one that people actually want to come to. In today’s world the biggest issue is, people have a choice. They can work in multiple locations these days and they choose to work in multiple locations so what it is that can bring people into the actual working environment?

You have been in Germany for a while now, do you see any significant differences between the German working environment compared to the European or even British workplace?
There are some very significant differences in the two environments. We just completed our German workplace survey from 2018 and we are going to publish it probably this month. I cannot give too much away but here three sneak-peaks: First of all, the German workplace is the most highly cellularised place in all regions of the world that we have surveyed. It is the most enclosed of all examples. We also define the innovation index, which looks at how innovative people are and what is really interesting is that Germany according to the World Economic Forum is the most innovative country in the world and I would agree with that. But the workplace in Germany is the least innovative of all regions of the world.

But what defines innovation?
Innovation is defined by being able to do your best job at work, being creative, having access to talent – there is a 6-point scale of innovation that we track and what we are finding is that the German workplace is actually tracking below most other regions of the world. So that is an opportunity to change. Also, because the German workplace is so highly cellularised, we believe that there is an opportunity to improve the working lives of  18 million people in Germany. The final finding I can already share that is very interesting and good news for Germany, is that of all regions in the world that we have surveyed Germany places the highest value on health and wellbeing, work-life-balance and the environment. German workers have the highest value system of all regions in the world. However, the workplace in Germany typically is not meeting these expectations. Here we see great opportunity for improvement.

As a last question, in one sentence – what is the workplace paradox for you?
Everything we thought we knew about the workplace is wrong!

Thank you Philip for this really special and exciting talk and your willingness to answer our questions. We hope to see you again soon at HSBA, you are always welcome!

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