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Championing equality in the workplace: Creating gender-inclusive offices

5 steps to a fairer future

Conversations around workplace equality are often raised surrounding International Women’s Day, but as we know all too well, said discussions shouldn’t be restricted to a single day each March, they need to be vocalised all year-round.

At Kontor we’re no strangers to the evolving world of workspace design, notably how equality is championed in modern office spaces, and where it still requires work to ensure important changes are being addressed to make for a fairer future.

We sat down with Associate Director Tasha to discuss 5 ways providers and asset owners can continue striving for equality inside and outside the realms of office design.

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Dedicated space for new parents 

Providers, especially flex providers, are turning their attention to creating appealing, inclusive spaces. Many of which are addressing female-centric needs, including private spaces for new mums. 

Integrating hideaway hubs which allow for privacy whilst breastfeeding, changing or pumping create an inviting environment for parents during keeping in touch (KIT) days, and also offer flexibility with childcare. 

We’re seeing providers focus on this by creating multi-use spaces. This allows clients flexibility with what to do with the area, with several opting to create parent-friendly rooms adhering to the above. 

Safety first 

Offices close to transport links are not only beneficial for team-wide commuting options, but also those prioritising safety, especially for teams working shift patterns.  

Over the past 12 months over 90% of our clients requested close proximity to transport links in their briefs. 

One of these was wellbeing app Sonder, who specified safety as one of their top 3 must-haves when seeking a new office, putting the security of their team - which heavily consists of a support team including nurses - well and truly at the forefront. 

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Inclusive decision-making

Catering to inclusive office design relies heavily on team input and communication from a diverse range of employees.

Recent client feedback has reinforced how important considering varying team needs are throughout the office-sourcing process, with many businesses engaging employees during different phases, allowing the end decision to reflect the views of the many, not the few.

Ultimately, gathering female insight as to what women deem important is crucial to creating gender-inclusive offices, as opposed to making decisions on their behalf.

Focus on diverse decisions is also an important factor on the path to B Corp certification - as recently discovered during our own journey. 

As an overarching theme throughout the process, businesses are scored against attracting, recruiting and retaining a diverse team, representative of a wide customer base. 

Flexibility within the workplace

It’s one thing talking about gender-inclusive workspaces from a design point of view, but they’d be nothing without the allowance for flexible working. 

Despite being advocates for an office-first approach, we’re not naive to the extent the world has changed post 2020. 

Offices should be designed to be as appealing as possible for everyone, to encourage attendance and collaboration during anchor days, as part of a realistic hybrid working approach. 

Molly-Johnson-Jones, Co-Founder of Flexa, breaks it down in a recent LinkedIn piece, discussing how flexible working can help women thrive in the following ways:

👉 Fuelling career progression, enabling women to pursue career ambitions whilst being present outside of work. 

 👉 Promoting a stronger work-life balance. 38% of mothers with young children agree they’d look to leave or reduce working hours without workplace flexibility.

👉 Supporting women’s healthcare, from menopausal symptoms to period pain and fertility treatment, symptoms can be managed much more efficiently via remote working options.

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Women’s wellbeing 

Aside from flexible working, adhering to female wellbeing needs within office design takes on many different forms.

Sanitary products in the bathroom can make a huge difference to someone’s day especially in an emergency, and aspects such as temperature control are often overlooked.

Fora recently spoke of a rise in demand for temperature-controlled areas within their offices, supported by previous research showing women’s preferred office temperature was 24C, but men’s is 21C…

… That explains the debates over heating!

Creating spaces which help with overwhelm - such as recharge rooms - are now a frequent requirement within office design, and on-site gyms are commonly integrating curtained-off workout areas and booths, allowing employees to exercise in privacy. 

Gender-inclusive workspaces are a necessity, but with a progressive mindset which accounts for the voices of the many, not the few, it’s a challenge businesses can accomplish.

Paving the way for an inclusive future means companies need to account for ways of working which benefits females, not just during International Women’s Day, but every day.

By Jess Ward, Content Marketing Manager

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Want to know more?

Let's chat! You can call us on +44 020 3770 4279 or email hello@kontor.com

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