Office design is changing rapidly as it desperately attempts to keep up with its employees’ needs, preferences, and technological capabilities. When office cubicles were first introduced into the workplace, they were implemented as a method of squeezing as many employees as possible into a small space as quickly and as cheaply as possible. However, that method proved ineffective. As we shifted back to rows of employees crammed to a single long table and called it an “open-plan office,” employees complained about the noise levels and countless and continuous distractions. Then, we stuffed employees back into their secluded, concealed cubicles as a means of solving this problem. As office layout and design continues to evolve, the focus has shifted from managers and top-level associates to the numerous employees that have been forced to adapt to the changing and less than mediocre office designs and layouts. A staple exterior design for offices and businesses is the flying of their banners on telescopic flagpoles, they want to make an impression on passers-by as well as the employees who work there. They know that they are working at somewhere professional.
Today, offices are designed with a greater focus on recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees. This means that the spaces are designed for employee functionality, efficiency, productivity, and overall well-being. Some time ago, this all started with offices wanting comfortable and ergonomic office chairs to better improve the health and posture of their employees. Now, many offices and managers are looking to go the extra mile. We’re more likely to see fully stocked kitchens, coffee stations, and game rooms and less likely to come across dull, lifeless cubicles. As companies, architects, and designers caught up to this life-changing trend, the improved and upgraded workplace layout and design began to spread throughout offices everywhere. In order to properly implement this flexible layout designed for employees, a few other design trends appeared as a common theme in each office space.
In office spaces today, we are eliminating the traditional cubicle system and all of its glory, such as the sheltered, enclosing walls and convenient, built-in filing cabinet, and introducing more unorthodox space and seating options; aka the flexible office space. As companies strive to grant their employees more freedom and flexibility, we are more likely to see distinctive, compact nooks and crannies embedded into the walls around various corners, auditorium style seating for presentations, and you might even find an employee sending emails in the middle of the staircase or in some cases, a quiet area under the stairs. Employees are able to choose their ideal work environment each day that they walk into the office without being confined to a specific desk or cubicle.
In addition to workspaces varying in size, colors, design themes, privacy levels, and location, they also embrace a much larger variety of seating options, opposed to the traditional rolling, swivel desk chair that has previously flooded offices everywhere. Because modern offices are more similar to a home away from home than a quiet, tedious work environment that you attempt to spend the least amount of time possible in, the space and seating alternatives are more home-inspired than they have been in the past. Seating solutions fluctuate from bar stools to couches to bean bag chairs in order to ensure comfort and a relaxed state of mind.
Open Offices & Collaborative Spaces
Collaboration and teamwork is a major trend in modern office spaces. Business owners, managers, architects, and designers are breaking down the walls in workplaces and encouraging group work and employee interaction. This means no more cubicles and office partitions. Although this open concept is somewhat controversial because of the argument that these open spaces are loud and distracting, the growing trend does not seem to be diminishing any time soon. We notice an increasing number of group work areas and much less individual workspaces, although these private workstations are still apparent in flexible office spaces. Even conference rooms are enclosed in glass walls to appear less secluded. Office spaces today are designed to bring employees together and encourage conversation with the intent of increasing productivity and generating higher quality work.
While office kitchens, lounge areas, and breakrooms were always evident (at least during the past 30 years), a number of social areas and breakout spaces are making an appearance in many offices. We’re discovering spaces such as nap rooms, gyms, meditation spaces, and game rooms, each providing a specific location for employees to relax and unwind.
As we move to the design elements of modern office interiors, we tend to detect elements found in nature incorporated into the office design. There’s a greater amount of wood finishes, natural colors such as brown, green, and blue, and an abundance of plant life scattered throughout the office. Glass panels and large windows allow natural light to flow throughout the space setting a warm and inviting tone across the room. A calming and relaxing energy accompanies the natural elements, relieving stress and improving focus.
As I’m sure you’ve heard before, your office design should reflect your brand and its personality and vision. Office spaces today are taking this theme to the next level. Elements from layout to furnishings, color palettes, and décor are derived from a company’s brand, and they’re doing an exceptional job representing themselves.
As the workplace progresses in every aspect, its technology must be integrated in a way that keeps up with its employees. Large presentation screens and data sharing is a must and video conferencing capabilities and charging ports are integrated in a way that coincides with the flexible office layout. Employees work more from their smartphones, laptops, and tablets and are therefore no longer tied to a desk by a large computer monitor with its chords wrapping around their feet restricting them into their daily position, confined to their desk. Upgraded technology authorizes employees to work from almost anywhere in or out of the office. And with this increasing ability to complete everyday work task from portable devices and almost everything is done online, there is rarely a need for large, boxy storage solutions.
Additionally, work-related apps such as mobile calendars or planners and devices such as Apple watches grant us even more flexibility in the workplace. Siri and Alexa are becoming our assistants, answering questions, creating to-do lists, scheduling meetings, and sending messages. With the ability to work from virtually anywhere, employees are able to utilize the variety of workspaces located throughout the office.
This new flexible office layout awards employees the freedom and individuality that both cubicles and the outdated version of an open-plan office stole from them. They are able to choose their work environment and rotate to new workspaces as needed each day or multiple times a day. We now work in a world where technology is able to keep up with our fast-paced minds and lives, nature is incorporated into various design elements, and our company’s brand is proudly represented throughout the entire office space. During this year, these now common design trends will make their appearance in office spaces everywhere, improving the way we work and each employee’s mood at work.
Cubicle specialist by day and horse-rider by night, Taylor Landis leads the content marketing division for Skutchi Designs, the office cubicle manufacturers of tomorrow. During the day, she writes on everything from architectural and office design trends to small business, marketing and blogging tips. By night she teaches lessons to members of her college equestrian team and competes regularly in national competitions. Check out her latest posts at http://www.skutchi.com/blog.html