Flexibility and variety are the hottest current trends in office design, with companies such as Google and Facebook investing millions into designs they hope will encourage more innovation and greater productivity.
Why is office design so important?
Employees are more productive if their office environment suits their tasks. A successful office design will give employees a safe, calm and inspiring space with a choice of areas for different activities.
How is office design changing?
A key trend is to move away from a model where one fixed layout fits all activities to a more flexible workspace which gives employees the freedom to choose from different types of space for different activities. Sociable interaction with our colleagues helps us innovate and share ideas, but we all need a cosy quiet space from time to time to concentrate on a specific project or a meeting room to discuss projects without disturbing the workers around us.
According to research published in Applied Ergonomics, when employees’ needs are taken into account, with good assessment of their ergonomic requirements and their day to day tasks, open plan offices have positive effects on interaction and communication.
What aspect of office design should businesses consider?
When designing their offices, employers need to take into account not only the basic essentials such as an operator chair and desk for each worker, but also spaces to allow meetings and brainstorming and quiet areas for intense focus. Businesses are increasingly seeking out multi-purpose furniture which allows them to create flexible spaces such as screens, which can easily be moved from place to place, or sofas with a high back to act as an integral screen. Screens function to cut down noise and visual distraction, provide privacy and section off areas of the office.
Businesses should not forget the essential requirements of an ergonomic office. An operator chair can be easily and quickly adjusted to fit each employee properly. Height adjustable desks are increasingly popular for the flexibility they offer for different workers and work styles.
Even the colour of the different areas in an office can have an impact: warmer colours are often chosen for walls, floor coverings and furniture in areas designed to encourage interaction between staff, with cooler colours for individual desks and quiet focus areas.