Designing a truly great office space can be a real challenge, because technological changes and generational differences make it difficult to predict the precise requirements of the future. Nevertheless, it pays to keep on top of current trends and attempt to 'future proof' your office interior design as much you possibly can.
Although design ideas can vary greatly, one thing the majority of workplace design experts agree on is the need for flexibility in the office space of the future, so it is sensible to take steps to address this now. In this article, we look at why flexibility is so important, as well as ways to increase flexibility in your own office space.
The Rise of the Remote Worker
One of the most fascinating developments of the past few years has been the increase in the number of employees who are given permission to work remotely. However, it could be argued that fully embracing the potential of concepts like telecommuting will involve re-thinking the very purpose of the office space itself.
"Technology pretty much allows you to work anywhere and allows employers to track productivity," says Nathan Curtis, an interior designer for Fuse Studios, in an interview with TableAir. "Where the agreed work needs to be carried out is not so important,
unless you are tied to manufacturing something."
Research from both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and TinyPulse has found remote workers to be happier and more productive than office-based counterparts. As a result, in the future, many businesses may need to adapt and start to view the office as less of a rigid workplace, and more of a social space for idea sharing.
An End to Personal Workstations?
While remote working suits some employees, it it important to remember that it may not suit everyone. In addition, the nature of some businesses will restrict remote working opportunities, meaning the office still needs to function as an actual place of work. With that said, the concept of personal workstations may not be so important.
Despite being a key part of office space planning for decades, multiple studies have shown that personal workstations are used less than 50 percent of the time, and experts are warning that these workstations may hold workers back. After all, employees are now utilising devices like laptops, tablets and mobile phones, which provide them with the luxury of being able to move around the office, adapting to what is needed in the moment.
This flexibility when it comes to physical location also has potential health benefits. According to the British Heart Foundation, the average person sits for 9 hours a day; behaviour which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. The idea of more active working has been touted as a possible solution.
Balancing Privacy and Collaboration
Finally, workplace flexibility can help to strike the balance between allowing collaboration and affording employees the privacy they need. While the open plan office has dominated the design landscape for the past 20 years, largely thanks to the collaborative benefits it can produce, its drawbacks are becoming more widely recognised.
Perhaps the most obvious problem with open plan designs is excessive noise. Indeed, a report published by Oxford Economics found that 50 percent of millennials were bothered by their ability to focus without interruptions, while 29 percent of them cited peace and quiet as the single most important factor in a healthy work environment.
Yet, employers do not need to completely turn their back on the collaborative benefits of open plan designs. In actual fact, the ideal solution may be to have both open spaces, where collaboration is encouraged, and designated quiet spaces, where employees can
work without distractions. Staff can then be provided with the flexibility to move between the two different spaces, depending on their mood or the nature of their work.
Reno is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and office design company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in retail designs, interiors, graphic productions, signage systems, office space planning, event branding, conference set design and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on twitter.