Two elements of collaboration have fundamentally changed for both the employers and employees – employees desire social connections while collaborating and organizations are seeking innovation to succeed. Innovation is nurtured through informal, social, creative interactions, and in response, workplaces are shifting from a “me” to a “we” work environment in which a wide assortment of technology-rich, adaptable group spaces are offered. To foster social interactions, companies are providing more lounge spaces, cafés, or markets with features such as Ping-Pong or foosball. Above all though, people are the most important metric. Companies need to consider the type of talent they are trying to attract, and then determine the types of spaces that will draw these people in and keep them in the organization.
The average American sits for 7.7 hours per day. Being sedentary for that long over a prolonged period of time has negative impacts on a person’s health. Providing adjustable height workstations gives employees the ability to stand while working. Access to natural light or
views of the outdoors improves productivity as well as employee satisfaction. The workplace needs to promote physical health as well as mental and social wellbeing through opportunities to engage in spontaneous meetings and the freedom to move between social times.
Workplaces are more diverse than ever, with as many as five generations working together. Millennials – people born between the early 1980s and 2000 – are changing the work environment because they are generally more productive in café or lounge settings vs the
traditional cubical workstations. Providing more open places for informal meetings is a successful strategy since they require less privacy than Baby Boomers. When it comes down to it, workplace design is really about choice and control – giving people the choice of where they want to work and the type of space that is best suited for them.
Density, Efficiency, Utilization
Worker mobility is causing companies to rethink what kind of real estate they require. Personal workspaces are getting smaller and workplaces have a higher density. The trend is the result of moving casual meetings away from the cubicle or office to huddle areas with more interesting, upholstered furniture. Remember though, efficient design is not about decreasing square footage, but about increasing utilization.
Acoustics are vital
Workplaces are trending towards open and flexible environments, but when doing complex knowledge work, many people seek private, quiet places. White noise or sound masking can increase performance, but it can also be achieved through office layout, flooring materials, walls, ceilings and behavioral protocols. The design team must assess each organization’s unique needs based on factors such as the client’s industry, market, corporate culture, demographics, recruitment and retention. There is a delicate balance between crafting visual connections and communication, and much needed acoustical privacy within the work environment.
Jewel tones provide a beautiful contrast to many offices’ neutral décor. Pantone, the standard in color trends, has named jewel toned colors their Color of the Year five times in the past nine years. Jewel tones are saturated colors that add a feeling of luxury and can make a space seem more expensive than it actually was.
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Wellbeing, not just wellness:
- Height adjustable workstations
- Natural light, outdoor views
- Physical, mental and social health
- Light recreational amenities – Ping-Pong or foosball
Density, Efficiency, Utilization:
- Activity-based work settings
- Informal meeting spaces
- Collaborative environments
- Choice and control
Acoustics are vital:
- Personal workspaces are smaller
- Workplaces are higher density
- More casual meeting areas
- Open offices still need private, quiet places
- Provide sound masking
- Assess organization’s unique needs
- Jewel tones add a feeling of luxury