August 25, 2014

9 Current or up and coming trends in office design

Article by Micah Weeks

There are a number of factors that affect the way we buy and utilise office space, but did you know that current or budding office design trends are one of the main trends? Trends are something that many companies don’t really consider when making real estate decisions. We have outlined 9 current and budding trends to ensure that you are up to date with what’s happening in the industry.

1. Collaboration Is Key
If your company first began as a few people sitting around someone’s garage, it is important to understand that moving into a larger, more traditional workspace is going to affect your output. You should consider providing a space that is collaborative to support ‘team time’.

2. Bye-Bye Private Offices
More offices are shifting towards an alternative work environment – each employee has a smaller workstation. When placed in a circular formation, the centre can be used as a conference space and encourages discussion and collaboration.

3. Collaborative Hub
Some companies with open plan designs are choosing to cut about 300mm off each employee workstation, using the saved space to create a small, collaborative hub. This is where employees can come for some quiet research time or to make private phone calls.

4. Hotdesks
With more companies accepting the idea that employees don’t need to be at their desks in order to be productive, hotdesk spaces are becoming more popular. Often, this incorporates a telephone, a smaller and more open desk with easy access to the internet and power points.

5. Rethink Technologies
Shifting technologies (such as cordless phones and laptops) continue to disconnect employees from their workstations. Basically, if something is not within 2 to 3 metres of the employee looking for it, it’s not useful. Only immediate files should be kept on hand, for example.

6. Activity-Based Planning
These days, activity-based planning is actually key to space design – we need to re-plan buildings based on what employees actually do. Even though we often have smaller workspaces, we have more activities to choose from (such as collaborative spaces, open conference rooms and mobile workstations).

7. Bigger Spaces For Some
There seems to be a shift from space being allocated by title to space being allocated by how much time you spend at work. A receptionist who spends all 8 hours in the building will be allocated more space than a salesperson who spends 6 or 7 hours out on the road.

8. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
The reality is that some jobs are very tied to their spaces. A receptionist spends their day tied to the desk, answering the telephone and making appointments. A helpline worker also spends all day answering phone calls, but they often ask questions to those around them.

9. Less Drywall Is More
Companies looking for a new building are looking for more flexibility, which actually translates into lower construction costs and lower tenant improvement costs. Going to fewer than 17% private offices in a floor layout will cut drywall costs by up to a third or even half!

Some people even believe that, eventually, the building itself and its infrastructure will link together. The walls will contain technology that talks to the furniture, which talks to the floor and so on. Whilst this is a trend that won’t be around anytime soon, it is interesting to think about how such developments and changes will affect how we buy and utilise office space.

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