San Francisco announced to gadget fans across the world this week what they have all been waiting for: the unveiling of the Apple Watch in all its glory. Excited yet somewhat ambivalent to hear what Apple’s new boss, Steve Cook, had to say – I found five distinct parallels that the new gadget phenomenon and a well-planned office space have in common. Without further ado, here are a couple of similarities between the two:

  1. The watch doesn’t last forever, and like the workspace, your office design will at some stage need a recharge: over the past few years in South Africa, open plan, collaborative spaces are proving to be popular as more and more companies are seeing the benefits. A recent IBM study found that “extensively collaborative” companies performed better than their peers, and companies that collaborated with external sources made more money than those that didn’t.  The pin-up-boy of office space design, Google, was an early adopter of collaborate spaces, realising the impact that these spaces have on creativity. As people change, so do our needs and requirements, particularly within the workspace. Every 48 hours the Apple Watch needs to be recharged, and so too will your workspace in order to keep up to date and meet workforce requirements.
  2. Only the best for the best: the premium Apple Watch Edition is essentially a status symbol.In relation to the workspace, your office should be used to attract and retain the best in the industry. Modern workspaces need to be optimally planned in order to attract, retain and engage workers of today. Quite simply, the better designed a workspace is, the more productive the staff members using it are, and, equally importantly, more productive workers gravitate to organizations with better work environments.
  3. Technology and innovation: one can use the Apple Watch to check-in at hotels and even unlock the door to your hotel room. In addition to this, it can also open the garage and even the car door. Today technology isn’t only a given, but an extension of who we are. Be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop, we always have at least one piece of technology with us. We demand connectivity and ease of use to simply plug and play. Modern workspaces need to support this technology-driven lifestyle.
  4. Keep it mobile: the Apple Watch takes phone calls: today’s executive is on the go with no cellular office, no desk, and more importantly, no ownership. Apple is aware of this and so too are South African companies by seeing the benefits of Activity Based Work (ABW), which can also be referred to as hot-desking. Workers in an activity-based office don’t own a desk, or any space, for that matter, and choose what type of workspace to work at on a daily or even hourly basis. It is an ownerless environment that allows staff to come and go as they wish and to work wherever they wish. Space costs money and now local companies are reconsidering the way they work and design their office spaces to not only ensure that they optimise every inch of space they have, but to also make sure that the space is working smartly and enhances productivity.
  5. Health and wellness is key: just as a healthy office space increases work productivity, inspires creativity and costs a company less on its bottom line, it appears health is also a feature for the watch, positioned by Cook as “a comprehensive health and fitness companion”. The watch tracks your movement, how much you are exercising and tells you when you have been sitting still for too long. It also takes your heartbeat. It’s evident that wellness incentives are beneficial to an organisation’s bottom line. Employers are now assisting staff improve employee’s health and wellbeing so they can lead productive lives at home and work. The benefits of creating a healthy work environment are numerous, and small changes can lead to big returns. By simply improving the lighting in your office, you will improve productivity, and better seating reduces absenteeism. All these small changes have a significant impact on the work environment and how people work within it.

Change – we all go through it, whether it’s a new watch, or a new working space. Some of us embrace it and some of us simply hide under the boardroom table. The importance of change is that we keep up, abide by it and that it meets our everyday (working and personal) needs.

Linda Trim is Sales and Marketing Director for South Africa’s largest corporate interior specialist company, Giant Leap.

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