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The changing look, purpose and use of the office has been an extended topic of discussion amongst designers, workspace specialists and operators. They put their efforts, knowledge and analysis in trying to find the right formula that will accommodate the changing needs of employees, especially in alliance with the emergence of the Millennials workforce.

As an established expert in this field of research and design work, Weelerkanik have executed numerous projects for big brands, transforming their office to a space where the team can grow and thrive. To find out how, we sat down with Grant Kanik, Co-founder Wheelerkanik, who shared deep insights from the workplace design industry and their work.

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eOffice: What are the main aspects of design that Wheelerkanik focuses on?

Grant Kanik: We are a people-centric, research-driven design practice. Our solutions are based on facts and research: both industry-wide trends research and in-depth analysis of our clients’ organisation and strategic objectives.

To achieve that, we take clients through a thorough strategic planning process involving briefing, visioning sessions and on site observations. Our objective is to analyze the people and their processes. We also look at current space utilization and how they interface with technology. We use this information to design environments that encourage and facilitate productive behaviours, while making a positive impact to the bottom-line.

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eOffice: What are the main factors changing the landscape of the workplace environment/office space?

Grant Kanik: Flexibility: People are working in different ways. Today, the UK Department of Work and Pensions estimates that over 90% of UK businesses offer flexible working and 27% of the UK’s workforce works part-time.

Connectivity: 2015 stats estimate the global Internet population to have surpassed 3 billion people and over half of all Internet connections are mobile.

This means that the boundaries between work time and personal time are now blurred; we are able to work across multiple teams and geographies and are no longer desk-bound.

Increased collaboration: team structures are flatter and there is more inter-departmental collaboration. Social software also has enabled us to collaborate in a dozen of different ways.

Autonomy: Workers increasingly see the ability to choose where and how they want to work as a right, rather than a perk.

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eOffice: Which area of the office space is transforming in line with the different needs of the Millennials?

Grant Kanik: It is important to understand that what is driving workplace transformation is not just people born between 1977 and 1994 but the fact that the mindset and behavior that characterize this age group is spreading – connectivity, flexibility, autonomy and collaboration. You will find lots of 50 year-old “millennials” – this is the real game-changer in office design.

Until the late 1990’s the workplace was primarily bi-modal (desks and meeting rooms). In the 2000’s we saw it evolve to incorporate break-out areas and quiet spaces. That’s an improvement but our research show that to support the millennial mindset organisations need to provide a combination of up to 13 different workmodes (depending on the organization itself and its people).

Flexible working spaces are a direct result of the change in people’s relationship with work and the work environment and provide an excellent opportunity to explore an optimal combination of different workmodes.

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eOffice: Which exciting project are you working on at the moment?

Grant Kanik: We are currently implementing new workplace standards for a large financial services organization globally that incorporates many of the workmodes I just described. It is an exciting project, which allows us to look at space from a number of different angles. It is also an opportunity to understand how the workmodes must respond to different cultural contexts.

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