Modern Office Design: Expanding Beyond Cubes

Though its role is sometimes overlooked, office design plays a vital role in making employees as engaged and productive as possible. Up to 75 percent of workers are struggling thanks to less-than-ideal work conditions that negatively impact their productivity, engagement and innovation. Employees working in uncomfortable surroundings deliver job performance that’s less than their full potential and are more likely to leave their employers.

Trends In Office Design: Main Drivers

Modern office design trends are largely driven by technology. The rise of mobile devices and wireless networking, for example, has separated many employees from their desks without hurting their productivity. Greater schedule flexibility (again tied to improved technology) has also driven a new trend for office spaces that are suited to non-traditional working hours. More workers are doing more work remotely, including (but not limited to) in their homes. Offices are becoming more public spaces where long-term employees may be working together with contractors, consultants, and freelancers.

“A greater interest in collaboration and creative work and work spaces are also driving trends in office design,” says an office decorator at HL Decorating. Millennial employees, in particular, are interested in collaborative work. They’re less likely to draw strict dividing lines between work space and home space because of their familiarity with mobile technology. Work is something that can be done anywhere, at any time, and a desk is absolutely not a requirement.

3 Big Trends In Modern Office Design

1) The Homely Office

Millennials understand the need to put in long hours, so they appreciate spaces designed to maximise comfort. Offices that resemble university commons or cosy homes are increasingly popular. A fully-stocked, company-funded snack area is practically a necessity. This office-as-a-second-home trend also frequently introduces comfy lounge seating, natural lighting, plants, and gaming tables. A company looking to encourage flexible attendance amongst its employees needs to take significant steps to make the office an attractive place to work. Without a comfortable workspace, employees on flexible schedules are more likely to do as much work as possible from their homes or their favourite cafes.

2) Flexible Workspace

The space around modern employees needs to be as flexible as their employers want them to be. An office might require tables for small project teams to meet at and copious white boards to allow for impromptu brainstorming. “Break” areas for lounging and eating also need to be equipped to allow small-scale coaching and ad-hoc collaboration if social interactions turn into work sessions. Modern offices need to provide for a wide range of different work modes, from focused solitary work to large group meetings.

Modern office design requires a solution to the potentially-conflicting goals of privacy and collaboration. A sales representative entering into contract negotiations with a new client, for example, needs an isolated, private space, even if he or she is interacting with clients on the phone. Absolute privacy also needs to be available to all employees for personal emergencies, such as a call about a sick child. Multi-purpose spaces need to make accommodations for the needs of the individual as they evolve to fit more collaborative work styles.

3) Modular Spaces

Because of the increasing flexibility of both space and function, modular layouts and equipment are highly preferable to fixed alternatives for modern office designs. Using modular layouts wherever possible enables organisations to be agile about reconfiguring their spaces as their needs evolve over time. Customisable multi-purpose workspaces have already reduced the need for fixed workstations in many industries, and as time goes on that need is likely to grow smaller and smaller.

Conclusions

Office design matters – not just to the employees who are obliged to work in a certain space but also to their employers. The march of technology is introducing incredible flexibility into where, when, and how people work, and their workspaces need to change to keep pace with that flexibility. Given the growing premium placed on collaborative work, it makes sense to design workspaces that support collaboration. Modern business conditions demand rapid adaptability from both companies and employees, and their office spaces need to be similarly fluid.