Workplace strategy demands a more hospitable workplace for the future of work

We have been investing in the future of our business through my unique research on the subject of workplace strategy. I’ve published much of this work at

As a journalist and writer, I have now conducted over 50 interviews with workplace leaders including those at some of Australia’s most prominent organisations. I am learning a lot from this research.

Workplace strategy is opening up as a nascent professional discipline because as digitisation forces evolution in the economy, the workplace must follow. As the workplace evolves, we aim to grow with it by continuing our research.

Workplace strategy is no longer primarily a consideration of property. It is now characterised fundamentally by the design and delivery of work and the spaces – both real and virtual – in which it is to be delivered.

And it’s not driven principally by just any work, but that conducted in “knowledge factories”, and how it is to be executed.

Amid the proliferating choices of how and where to work in the digitising economy, workplace strategy is becoming much more about the interplay of strategy with workplace.

This makes “knowledge architecture” – designing around the unique body of knowledge contained in any workplace – fundamental to workplace strategy.

Properly framed, it is about making the workplace more effective and smarter, and in whichever space it occupies, its absolute focus should be on producing knowledge-generating assets.


Hospitality’s role is growing in constructing the workplace for the future of work

We are seeing the importance of workplace hospitality growing, simply because if those knowledge factories are in any way inhospitable, they are unlikely to be as attractive to workers or as optimally effective.

I have interviewed many of those who, on account of their relocations of large staff numbers into activity based working regimes, now self-describe as workplace strategists.

Our emerging view is that this is only the narrowest possible view of workplace strategy.

New, attractive workplaces and ways of working are often touted as a way of competing to attract talent, and in this, the proliferation of internal cafes aside, hospitality is playing a demonstrable role.

At a session I chaired at the Total Facilities Conference in Darling Harbour on March 29, one of my co-panelists was James Armstrong, founder of corporate hospitality business First Contact.

Now, through property agency Colliers International, he provides corporate hospitality to organisations such as Westpac Banking Corporation in the form of workplace concierges.

Those services are provided not just for the executive suite, but for the bank’s staff, in its luxurious new activity based working Barangaroo offices.

An emphasis on hospitality is also found to be a significant consideration at workplace strategy’s emerging other extreme, coworking.

Essentially, coworking comprises the rental of a desk in a shared space.

It is geared to the very smallest of businesses, some as small as a single individual with an idea who wishes to work among others.

It is flexible, pay as you go, and most coworking agreements require only month-to-month payments, with no longer commitment.

Desk space is now bought, much like web-hosted software, as a service, with as much as needed bought only when needed.

Coworking spaces, however, don’t work on their own. Instead, they must be engineered and managed to produce their intended high-spirited, collaborative environments.

Management factors in both the companies to which they give space, the policies by which they are run and processes governing who will be invited to work in them.

Coworking is inspired by the spirit of software development teams, but it is growing because its flexibility has special applications, such as for project teams required, perhaps for reasons of confidentiality, to work off-site.

It is increasingly popular with Business Insider reporting in April 2017 IBM agreeing to sign a membership deal for all desks in coworking operator WeWork’s 88 University Place, New York, building.

It was set to move up to 600 employees there, with it essentially becoming IBM’s corporate office, but designed and managed by WeWork.

For a piece I was commissioned to write elsewhere on coworking, Brad Krauskopf, chief executive of Sydney and Melbourne coworking space The Hub, himself from a hospitality background, told me, “I’ve very much become convinced that what we do in co-working is that we’re a hospitality business.”


Shiro will design hospitality for business into the workplace for the future of work

Our unique research on workplace strategy gives us insights into the changes occurring for businesses and their workplaces.

Through her work on the Meriton Tower on Sydney’s Kent and George Streets, Hiromi Lauren already has demonstrable knowledge in the creation of commercial workplaces.

We aim to introduce our growing expertise in hospitality to work on workplace. Our experience is borne of our work on the KDV Golf and Tennis Academy student accommodation building, in collaboration with Wim Steenbeek, former south-east Asia design director of InterContinental Hotels. After a career spent working on hotels, we reckon Wim knows a bit about hospitality.

Combining the expertise of designing for a classroom and teaching facility for young aspiring sports professionals with the comfort of professional hospitality is something that can, that with our specialised knowledge of workplace strategy, be ported comfortably across to the work environment.

As with any project, our mission is to create spaces to feel good about, and that most certainly applies to the talent-attracting facilities of the workplace.