It’s no longer a case of ‘one size fits all’ for the modern workplace. We are in the midst of three shifts;
The 4G Workforce is characterised by four generations working side by side and requires insight into how they all think and act.
The Design Equality Movement questions the existing design status quo when it comes to gender, striving to create a truly inclusive workplace.
The Introvert/Extrovert Puzzle recognises the different ways people solve problems, offering a space that can unite these personalities, allowing collaboration for the extroverts and solitude for the introverts.
Psychological and cultural aspects are taken a lot more seriously by companies today. The importance of sustainability, wellness and psychological health are being recognised within corporate culture more and more.
Modern office furniture, like height adjustable desks, acknowledges the need to stay active and healthy in the workplace, but the same kind of design decisions are also being made from a psychological perspective, with different ambiences being created in a space through lighting and sound to create a more welcoming workplace. Controlling and hiding technology will also be a major aspect of this, creating a space that is influenced more by home interior design in order to reduce ‘tech fatigue’.
By recognising the types of interactions that occur in the workplace an office design can be created with specific spaces for these encounters, allowing your staff to decide for themselves if and when they want to use them.
This is the amalgamation of technology and architecture. Office design has always had to work in harmony with the technology of the time. The future workspace isn’t tethered to a desk, the advent of the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and the Internet of Things is giving employees the freedom to use whatever digital means necessary to get their job done. Whereas office furniture used to be defined by the devices that sat on top of them, in a world of mobile working on wireless devices, modern office furniture can be as informal and comfy as the sofa in your front room.
A layout needn’t be designed purely on the basis of hardware and infrastructure but upon the work that people will be doing in it and the way they will interact. The classic ‘office look’ was driven by technology and management structures, which are now becoming redundant. The new aesthetics for the office will be based more on interior design for hotels, restaurants, bars and homes.
Another defining factor in the changing face of office design is Big Data. It’s an all-encompassing term for the collection of data sets so large and complex that they become difficult to process using conventional methods. This has implications for the next generation of meeting rooms. Only having one screen doesn’t encourage collaboration and also makes it difficult for everyone to interact with the data being presented. Rather than being table-centric with one main screen, meeting rooms should give anyone participating the freedom to move from touchscreen to touchscreen and even interact with people not in the same room, building or even country.
Work today means meeting and greeting colleagues from around the world, sometimes without even leaving the office. Collaboration and creation without borders means that individuals should be able access each other to share ideas anywhere, anytime. Cloud based systems will give staff remote access to folders and projects, allowing them to work on them simultaneously from different locations.
The private desk will become a thing of the past, especially since virtual desktops already house most of the things that used to fill a physical desk. Staff will be able to work wherever they want and access countless datasets from multiple workplaces. Despite the fleeting nature of workspaces, personalisation will still be an important aspect of the office, especially for the hacker and maker cultures of recent generations.
While Activity Based Working and hot desks remove ownership of a ‘personal desk space’, many companies are creating a shared culture by encouraging employees to contribute to the décor of the workplace by choosing the art and accessories within it.
Finally, the very ‘borderlessness’ of this modern workplace gives way to a workforce in constant flow where digital information flows in a steady stream. Rather than being the mainstay of larger corporations, this micro-multinational movement is being led by smaller companies and entrepreneurs, creating co-working and alternative workplaces.
Recently, larger companies have embraced this more fluid collaborative style of co-creation with their own initiatives, such as IBM’s Beehive Social Network; an internet based social networking site for their workers.
This latest trend report has certainly given us plenty of food for thought, the one defining factor for us was the importance of diverse thinking when it comes to office design. By embracing the distinct nature of the individuals that will be sharing the office in the decades to come, we can create spaces that celebrate all of their strengths and create a truly inclusive space for our future workers.