“People ignore design that ignores people.”

Frank Chimero, designer

Frank hit that nail right on the head. Although every company has its unique set of needs, philosophies and limitations, making the spectrum of variables too wide to provide an universal design, there’s one thing they all have in common – the employee experience.

How people feel in their workplace should represent the center piece of any office design. After all, we spend (at least) a third of each day there, so we want that time to be spent in a pleasant and productive environment.

THE LAYOUT: Striking a balance between privacy and collaboration

“Is the open-plan office dead?” whispers the inner-voice of corporate future. Not quite, but it’s looking grim. That’s not to say fostering a community-type experience within a single space wasn’t a good idea. On the contrary. However, many organizations have found that having scores of people tapping away on their keyboards and yapping off on their phones in one room can be distracting and is defeating its purpose when it comes to collaboration and work productivity.

A recent study has suggested that in this type of layout 73% less time is spent in actual face-to-face interaction, while emails and messaging is up by 67%. Modern computer-related jobs coupled with the need for creativity simply demand more privacy. But is there a middle way?  

Yes, you can embrace the best of both worlds. A mixture of open collaborative spaces, private offices, breakout areas and community desks gives rise to the hybrid office concept. Besides utilizing mobile furniture (e.g. soundproof walls, adjustable desks for standing or sitting, couches, etc.) to adapt your open-plan areas, offering “third spaces” to where employees can retreat to recharge, work solo or share ideas, will inspire and motivate your millennial workforce.   

BIOPHILIC DESIGN: Bringing the outside inside

Nature is good for us. And yet we spend around 90% of our time indoors. To love life and living things, as the term “biophilia” suggests, is exactly what’s needed at one’s job. Letting in natural light and incorporating various types of greenery into your interior design has proven to improve health, well-being and cognitive performance anywhere, offices included.

A 2018 CBRE study has revealed that people feel more energized, healthier and happier when exposed to a biophilic design. Consistent proximity to natural elements bolsters productivity and creativity. This can be achieved by using natural textures, patterns and colour schemes in your wall décor. Furnish your office with wooden or stone furniture and bring in desk plants or hallway plants or any plants for that matter. It will quite literally bring a breath of fresh air into your workplace.

A SMART OFFICE: Using technology wisely

Closely connected to the trend of dynamic office architecture is the use of smart tech. Like offices layouts and the furniture in them, incorporating IT is about people.

With the world getting smaller and more complex, communication, be it global or local, plays a primary role. Thus, easy-to-use and up-to-date communication tools (e.g. digital whiteboards, sharing screens, video conferencing) are a must.

Paperless and sustainable means of organizing has become the norm. Booking rooms and managing meetings via automatic calendar updates will keep the office flow running smoothly and the carbon footprint considerably lighter.  

Next on the shopping list is an AI workspace, designed to even further enhance the employee experience. An ecosystem that can adapt to your preferences, automatically adjust lighting, seat and desk height, and set the appropriate room temperature.

Blending technology with office design wisely, increases comfort, productivity, efficiency, as well as safeguards the physical and mental health of our office-dwellers. 

(image source)