Given that many employees are now able to get on with their tasks remotely, offices have had to adapt to appeal to an increasingly mobile workforce and one with rising expectations. This means that the traditional approach to workspace design that centred on a ‘heads down’ isolationist model no longer fits most organisations. Instead, companies are having to create evermore dynamic and engaging places to work in.
Here, we explore the role of the modern-day office - and what it means for workers and the businesses that employ them.
The activity-based work model
Whereas once they were seen as the epitome of efficiency and modernity, homogenous workplaces dominated by cubicles have now fallen out of favour. While these environments may still suit certain companies, the majority prefer to adopt a more flexible, responsive approach to office design. This is often characterised as the ‘activity-based work model’ and it is centred on the idea that different areas within a workspace can be tailored to suit specific tasks.
One of the best examples of this is the creation of breakout areas that give people a place to hold impromptu discussions and meetings with colleagues. These relaxed zones can be designed to have a completely different look and feel from main work areas and they often contain features such as soft seating and meeting pods. It’s also now common for offices to contain quiet areas where people can go to get on with tasks that require maximum focus, or if they simply want some peace away from the noise created by everything from phone calls to photocopiers.
Rebalancing amenity and utility
Rather than being seen as purely functional, offices are increasingly being used for recreational purposes too. Many now provide a range of amenities to workers in a bid to boost morale and enhance recruitment and retention. This means that as well as offering facilities to help people get on with their job-related tasks effectively, workspaces often also contain amenities such as games areas, gyms, cafes and even bars. These features can encourage people to feel more positive about their roles and the organisations they work for.
Office design specialists like Studio Blitz are at the forefront of this trend. The company, which has worked with businesses including Google and Microsoft, now aims to ensure that around 40 per cent of space in the offices it designs is dedicated to amenities.
Creating human-centred offices
With their activity-based zoning and range of amenities, modern-day offices focus on creating human-centred spaces that meet the needs of today’s workforce. By putting time, effort and resources into creating an environment that frees people up to do their jobs well while at the same time making them feel good, companies stand to reap a range of benefits. They can encourage greater productivity and benefit from happier, more loyal employees. Meanwhile, workers can take advantage of a more enjoyable environment that enhances their job satisfaction and can help to minimise their stress levels.
To keep up with advancing technology and changing working trends, offices will no doubt continue to evolve. By staying in the design loop, you can make sure your business doesn’t get left behind.