Linda Trim, director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, said that as new technologies and design practices raise the bar in what can be achieved, South Africa, as in the rest of the world, is now entering the era of the ‘super-experience’ at work.
A ‘super-experience’ is a heightened experience that creates excitement, is original and impactful and which goes beyond the typical and more mundane ‘user experience’ which people experience at traditional workplaces.
Said Trim: “Super-experiences make you feel excited or that you’ve achieved something; they can stimulate curiosity, create a sense of purpose or instil a sense of belonging to a company. They can be unusual and unexpected – or reassuring and morale boosting. They can be small and intimate or executed on a grand scale."
There are many examples of the 'super-experience' at some of the world’s best known companies. These include office buildings such as Amazon’s biophilic glass orbs at its Seattle headquarters, which bring people closer to nature creating the sense they are working in a rainforest.
The Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco famously created 16 ‘neighbourhoods’ in the office, each comprising desk spaces, large communal tables, standing desks, phone rooms and personal storage lockers.
Data and media company Bloomberg’s new base in London is based in two buildings joined by bridges and located between the Bank of England and St Paul's Cathedral in London's famous Square Mile. It features a giant 210m ramp at its heart that aims to encourage collaboration between workers, offers and a pantry with free snacks and views over London.
NASA’s scientists have formed a ‘Space Orchestra’ which plays around the world.
Amazon headquarters campus in Seattle with 'super-experience' biophilic spheres. Source: Amazon
“Employee experience wasn’t really on the workplace map a few years ago but many businesses are now scrambling to create experiences inside and beyond office buildings that support innovation, wellbeing, productivity and learning.
“And as part of a newly thriving ‘experience economy’, new job titles are emerging in organisations such as CEXO (Chief Experience Officer),” Trim noted.
She added that to create a ‘super-experience’, companies should take a people-first approach, offering a flexible portfolio of experiences, and keeping an open mind on bringing in new technologies.
“The era of the super-experience will depend on new lighting, AV, soundscaping and sensor technologies in the workplace along with digital apps. The property sector will also require new skills, knowledge and ideas from theatre, arts, hospitality, retail and behavioural science if it is to make super-experience more of an occurrence in the workplace,” Trim concluded.
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