While the rate at which workplaces are becoming more multi-generational is increasing so is the development of fast-paced technology. These 2 factors combined have impacted office design greatly as workplaces have been forced to adapt to new trends (e.g. technological or psychological) that support the success of their businesses and employees’ comfort at work.
One trend that stands out above the rest is that companies are placing greater importance on employee wellbeing and creating environments that can maximize employee performance and productivity. This shift in focus has led to new workplace trends and opportunities to design innovative office interiors.
Work environments today are less predictable and more multifaceted than they were 5 or 10 years ago. Millennials and Generation Zers have different expectations from an employer than their predecessors had and employers have been (slowly but surely) adapting to this change.
One such expectation is the right to work from remote areas (whether in the office or virtually) versus traditional co-working stations. As such, flexibility has become a crucial part of designing a workplace.
This is most commonly achieved by creating more open and shared floorplans to allow employees to choose the space they feel most attracted to working in; taking into consideration their task requirements.
From high table collaborative spaces, aiming to give employees the opportunity to brainstorm as a team, to informal open meeting rooms that encourage collaborative discussions without a sense of hierarchy (while offering significant private individual space).
These ‘cohabitation space’ options create a culture that promotes positive relationships and a sense of community. This layout offers employees the flexibility to work remotely on their tablets (not only outside the office, but within different zones created within the open floorplan). The furniture used can greatly aid in creating this type of environment and the more adaptable the better.
Employers are placing a greater emphasis on creating spaces that are both functional and have a positive impact on employees’ emotions. In order to achieve this, a designer has to consider an employee’s daily routine at the workplace. From there we can begin to design spaces that are experiential, (and preferably have some hospitality flair attached to them). The aim is not to simply create spaces to work in, but to:
A company’s philosophy also influences how a workplace is perceived. For instance, at A++ our philosophy states, ‘we don’t design spaces, we think about a new way of living to conceive a new relationship between people and spaces.’ As companies strive to retain talent, they are increasingly starting to provide more encouraging work environments that employees can look forward to coming into and doing what they love.
There has been an increased focus on employees being an organization’s most valuable asset. This in turn serves to build a sub-culture and company values that employees believe in and follow.
Modern commercial design principles create agile office spaces that don’t have an, ‘office feel’ but rather a more informal setting. For example, we all love to gather around a large kitchen island, while drinking coffee or preparing a meal, most of the times, that is where conversations begin. Why not create that in a workplace?
A space where employees feel welcomed, as they make their morning coffees or have lunch. Other organizations have incorporated café bar counters with patisserie displays to create a, ‘grab-and-go’ feel, for both staff and their clients (a great way to signify hospitality in a workplace). Larger organizations have taken a more serious approach towards employee well-being providing yoga studios and private gyms.
Humans have an intuitive connection with nature. It has the power to impact our mood and even our well-being. To create more productive, and healthier workforces, another key design factor is to embed nature and natural sunlight within interior spaces to create a perception of outdoor space within indoor interiors.
Research has shown that Biophilic Design (which continues to grow in popularity) has the power to decrease mental fatigue and stress among employees and increase productivity.
Examples of this include buildings with roof-top gardens, or vertical plantations. Working in the Middle East, and more specifically in young, booming countries like the UAE, people are surrounded by skyscrapers. This means most offices are designed to have enough exposure to sunlight as most towers are fully glazed.
In saying that however, it gets more complex with older building infrastructures, where natural sunlight is limited. Therefore, the design emphasis in this case would focus on creating artificial lighting and adjusting different lighting lux levels within each zone of the office, ensuring enough light is distributed across working zones.
In addition, adding plants and greenery within these spaces improves air quality, applying wooden floorings and natural features, such as green walls, water features, or sustainable dividers with nature-based partitions also helps enhance the space ambiance and connect the interiors with an outdoor theme.