How Office Design is Evolving Today

20795727094_10ef20402e_bSociety is changing, technology is developing, and the nature of business is evolving; in order to stay current and relevant, many employers are investing in office re-design to ensure that their company is creating an environment that results in happy, productive, and loyal employees.

Results of a recent study from Herman Miller highlight the main shifts in workplace design; we want to share them with you with our take on corporate design, below.

  1. Companies are foregoing large scale, formal conference rooms in favour of multiple smaller scale meeting rooms. Quite often, a boardroom big enough to seat 20 people is booked up to be used for meetings of 2-6 people; this means that most of that large space is unoccupied and therefore is not serving to the overall productivity of employees. With many meeting attendees being conferenced in via phone or video chat, the number of physical seats that used to be required is no longer so high. To utilize the square footage of the old-school, massive boardroom, companies are now favouring multiple meeting rooms that can accommodate 2-4 people or even 6-8 people, which means multiple meetings can occur in a private space simultaneously, leading to more productivity for the company. Additionally, the multiple spaces are not all designed the same. Innovative and open-minded companies realize that their employees all have different jobs; this means that their work, the technology they require, and the tools they use will vary from person to person. By designing small meeting rooms that vary in correlation with the jobs, they are providing spaces that are more functional to more specific needs of their staff which provides them with a more useful work environment than a one-size-fits-all boardroom.
  2. Circulation space used to be seen as a necessity that had no purpose other than getting an individual from Point A to Point B. Most of us are familiar with office space connected by long, boring corridors, whether it’s through your personal experience, stories from others, or television and movies. Nowadays, companies are realizing that by making circulation space fun, interesting, creative, and/or inspiring they can stimulate staff with connective spaces utilized for more than just human egress. The Herman Miller study shows that the old statistic of 33% circulation space is shifting to 47% connective space where people can meet up, chat, or brainstorm between offices.
  3. The breakroom used to be “plunked” into a design, feeling quite removed or isolated from the rest of the workplace. It was a room designated for lunch breaks or coffee breaks only and generally speaking, was not created to feel comfortable or inviting and had a tendency to feel cramped. Now, the breakroom is being ditched in favour of a larger, communal space with a “plaza-like” feel. This space allows for many staff to use the space as they please which means it can still be a lunch room but also acts as a space for employees to meet over a coffee and discuss group work or to brainstorm solutions to a problem. The statistic has changed from about 16 people allotted per breakroom seat to about 4 people per plaza seat, allowing for a more comfortable and productive space within the workplace.
  4. With the advancement of technology, we have seen a large increase in the percent of individuals who can conduct either some of, or all of, their work from home or from a location other than the office. This means that the old statistic of 97% of workstations being assigned to one individual only is resulting in a lot of vacant space within the workplace. Companies who have a large number of employees who work remotely for at least a portion of the week are realizing that it is more productive to have unassigned work desks that can be utilized for employees when they come in for 1-2 days, or perhaps only 1-2 hours per day. As long as their IT setup allows for quick and secure network connectivity, then having communal work areas can offer great space for people to intermittently work at. The small meeting rooms mentioned above allow for private space for staff who do not have assigned workspace but do require the option of privacy for meetings or phone calls, etc. or who might need a quiet space for concentration on complex work. The average of unassigned work seats has grown to be about 41% of the work seats in the contemporary workspace.
  5. Privacy used to be a luxury in the workplace; if you weren’t working in a huge, private corner office then you were out in an open space, working at a cubicle among the masses. Sometimes, as discussed above, a communal work environment lends a social aspect to the workplace which feels comfortable and can also encourage some great teamwork. However, we all know that certain projects, discussions, and meetings require privacy. Without privacy when you need it, work can be uncomfortable and important information can be compromised. This is another reason why these smaller, private and semi-private breakout spaces are so crucial to have in the contemporary workspace when so much of the space is open-plan and shared space. Now that it is not just the one large boardroom being the only room to allow for privacy, we’re seeing the statistic of 67 people per private space drop to about 24 people per private space. This means employees can have easier access to privacy when required, alleviating frustration and increasing productivity.

Are you an employer who wants to improve your workspace to keep up with the changes in work environments and the expectations of employees but are not sure how to implement the proper changes? Give us a call and we can discuss office improvements that are possible for your space, your needs, and your budget.


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