Oliver Ronald, Sales & Marketing Director at The Boss Design Group, talks about the emergence of settings within the workplace and explains why people are the key drivers behind workplace design.
For many of us, the phrase ‘workplace design’ conjures up images of desks, chairs and meeting rooms. Today, however, workplace design is all about settings and how people work and are managed, the technologies that enable their work, and how a company employs the workplace for its own ends.
People trends show that more and more employees view their work and life as one. Indeed, it’s proven that those companies who support their employees with flexible working patterns and technology to work anywhere, anytime, see a happier and more productive workforce.
We also know that the traditional daily commute to an office to occupy fixed desk space has long been on the wane. With the rise of telecommuting, co-working spaces, globalisation and new technology, ‘flexibility’ in the workplace is key. More and more of us are, or will be, working in both non-traditional ways and places, ranging from relying on adaptable furniture within the workplace and within hotels, to satellite offices, offshore offices, and of course, home offices.
The kingpin in today’s workplace is a new generation of knowledge workers, whose desire for innovation and creativity runs high on the agenda. They need to be able to easily switch their mode of focus – be it focusing, learning, socialising or collaborating – in order to stay fulfilled and to be productive. This in turn has led to the creation of a series of designated settings within workplace design. But as facilities managers, how does this impact on the actual design of the workplace? Here’s some considerations:
Privacy – whether it’s visual, territorial or acoustic, it’s important that space is created for workers to enjoy privacy from distracting phones and co-workers, either on an individual or team basis. There have been numerous product developments in this field over the years, including personal touchdown spaces, headspace and breakout areas that provide ergonomically sound alternatives to sitting at a desk or table. They also provide the perfect place to take a private telephone call, or to work independently, or as a group in conjunction with a laptop table.
Display – to facilitate communication and collaboration, it’s important that vertical surfaces feature throughout the workplace. From meeting booths and pods, to standalone media walls that offer TV, video and online facilities, or a fixed whiteboard, there is now a diverse choice of technological functions available.
Plug and play – technology and specifically connectivity is now ubiquitous and is becoming integral to everything we do.
Whilst it ‘s commonplace to find meeting tables that include discreet and integrated table-top power and data connection points, with cable management as standard, the integration of such devices is now common in soft office products too. Collaborative work stations not only provide innovative meeting areas that effectively break up large, open plan office spaces, they offer exceptional seating and technology combined into one striking piece.
Diversity – today, we have a diverse and entitled working population who demand a choice of where and how they work. Space trends show that those organisations that offer a mix of well-designed, shared and individual workspaces and practices that encourage employees to communicate and collaborate more, will attract and retain talent better.
Aesthetics – the trend for the workplace to become a softer environment continues. The modern office requires a balance of open-plan and quiet spaces, and workspaces need to accommodate the requirements of teams and individuals, with the flexibility to customise the working environment instantly.
Minimise costs – the workplace has always been viewed as a cost, but over the years, its potential impact on turnover, and ultimately on profitability, has become widely accepted. It’s a common fact that globally, desk occupancy only runs at around 40%, which amounts to a substantial amount of wasted space.
People no longer need to be sat at a desk to work productively, so workplace design is now all about defining upfront those areas that need to be fixed, flexible or fluid in a bid to keep costs down.
In conclusion, as the workplace continues to evolve, the key driver is people, and not furniture. In order to meet the needs of workers and their modes of focus, a holistic approach is required to support their way of working. By creating settings that facilitate modern ways of working such as collaborative, touch down, headspace and even the work café, productivity will ultimately increase and costs will be minimised. More importantly, by putting people at the centre of workplace planning, real business issues can also be addressed: such as identifying the true value that innovation, enhanced communication, and faster decision brings to the company. Workplace design is no longer about configuring the layout of desks, chairs and meeting rooms, it is a strategic asset that needs to be managed effectively.
For further information contact 01242 584897 or visit www.boss-design.comMore