The way that businesses work is constantly changing. As a result, office design needs to adapt to accommodate these different ways of working. For example, where cubicles that promoted individual work were once in favor, there is now a move towards more open-plan offices to encourage people to work as part of a team.
No matter what design a business chooses, the focus is now definitely on flexibility in the workplace. According to Alan Feltoon, the managing principal at MulvannyG2 Architecture based in Washington D.C., businesses should ask themselves questions before designing their office to ensure the space meets the needs of the modern workplace.
Does the business want to encourage camaraderie and transparency?
It is now common for companies to knock down their cubicles to create an open-plan space with even senior members of the team working amongst the other employees. Feltoon gives the example of when he redesigned the offices at an investment bank. Solid walls were replaced by glass walls and the space was planned for impromptu meetings to take place. The idea behind the design was to create an image of transparency to clients and also to encourage a shared team spirit amongst the staff. The aim was to help employees to share, communicate, participate and learn.
Is it possible to create privacy?
Even if a business wants an open-plan office and for employees to work together, it is likely that there will still be times when privacy is a necessity. For this reason, a business needs to create areas where employees can concentrate without distractions. Businesses need to provide a mix of areas so employees can choose whether to work collaboratively or focus on individual tasks.
How much office space does a business need?
Although this depends on the individual business and the activities they complete on a daily basis, architects typically allow a space of 150 square feet per employee. This figure has dropped from 250 square feet which are what architects used to allow per employee. The reason for this is that employers now adopt a more flexible approach to working with employees often working out of the office. For this reason, office occupancy is now much lower.
What about people working from home?
Working from home is increasingly common. Allowing employees this option makes sense for many reasons and can improve the productivity of a business and reduce the time employees take off work. However, with so many employees opting to work in this way, it is important that businesses think about home office design in addition to commercial office design.
Staff working from home hunched over a laptop on the coffee table in their lounge is not great. It is important that employees can sit in the proper position when working from a computer to avoid potential back, neck, shoulder and joint problems. Similarly, it is important that employees have the right lighting to work well and avoid eye strain.
One way that a business can combat these issues is to employ the services of a consultant to help their employees create a home office and choose comfortable desk chairs.
How can a business create a flexible space?
Keeping an office space as flexible as possible can prevent problems and further expenditure in the future, especially if a business is planning to expand in the future. There are some simple strategies a business can use to create flexibility in the workspace. First, they can buy furniture on casters so that the furniture is easily moved around the room. Secondly, they can have multifunctional rooms that double as both offices and meeting rooms. Finally, they can use dividers that are easily moved to create small and large workspaces as needed.
How can a business make their workspaces warm and welcoming?
The reception area is the first impression that clients get about a business. Therefore, it is important to make this space as warm and welcoming as possible.
The first trick to use is to make the most of light. Secondly, if the reception area is a large space, it can look intimidating. By creating different pockets of space, a business can make the reception appear more welcoming to clients.
Finally, some designers claim that color psychology works. This means that business can pick a color that gives across the image they want to convey. For example, the color cream is associated with sophistication and blue is linked to honesty.