“Developing workplace strategies begins with examining what people are doing in the space individually and collectively.”
Globally, workplace design specialists are sharing three important trends in workplace strategies and design that can affect an organisation and how their employees work. Understanding and designing a workplace towards these trends can help an organisation become more efficient and productive. According to a workplace strategy report by Kimball Office, an office design’s increasing importance lies within its ability to treat the space as a strategic asset as it enables organisations to align how they plan, design and manage their workplaces with the business goals and objectives of the organisation.
The three current office design trends include:
- Physical and remote interaction
- Shared Spaces
Interaction is the dominant trend in all spaces, not just workplaces. Interaction is increasing – not only when physically adjacent but also remotely – through the use of smartphones, iPad, and video conferencing. Workplace spaces are shifting toward designs that spawn innovation and creativity and greater portions of space are being allocated to interactive areas. These areas are being developed with an array of functions and sizes in mind to accommodate anything from formal, planned meetings to chance encounters en route to the coffee station. Interactive areas are interspersed with “thinking spaces” to accommodate quick transitions between collaboration and focused work. In some organizations, this also means less space is allocated toward traditional workspaces. This means fewer, smaller workspaces, and the use of bullpens, pods, and cul de sacs.
Since non-traditional employees are not necessarily in the office every day, some workplaces and tools (such as servers or laptops) can be shared. Some organisations have workspace (individual and/or shared) available on an “on demand” first come, first serve basis, others assign a “home base” to employees who are either in the office on a regular basis or working on a focused project for an extended period of time. Flexibility, in terms of adaptable furniture configurations, technology tools, and a variety of spaces, accommodates ad hoc teams created for certain projects, corporate reorganizations, and an increasingly mobile workforce.
According to a current workplace culture article by The Wall Street Journal, 13.4 million people, or 9.4% of U.S. workers, labored at least one day at home per week in 2012. With the number of remote workers increasing, workplace strategies are incorporating technological tools to support mobile work processes. “ Third places,” or satellite facilities, are being developed to support mobile workers who may be on the road, or who don’t have an optimal home office set-up. Companies may establish these to reduce commuting time for employees, at the benefit of reducing the number of workstations at their main offices, which are usually in higher rent areas. Face-to-face interaction helps reinforce cultural standards and personal relationships, and fosters collaboration. Amenities should be designed with aesthetics, sustainability and flexibility to attract employees to the office for a planned meeting or a casual visit.
We observe these trending workplace strategies are most effective when they are used in combination, and when they are coupled with strong culture definition and change management processes.
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