A new era of innovation, colour and collaboration has moved into the office, and it looks like it’s here to stay.
The time of the isolated worker is long gone. Instead of traditional closed office layouts, offices are introducing lower walls between desks, casual meeting areas, and ABW (activity-based working).
The International Facility Management Association reports that almost 70 per cent of workplaces are already utilising some form of open plan layout. We can only expect this to grow, as wireless technology continues to evolve.
Research shows workers are more productive when given the flexibility to choose how, where and when they work. So it’s no surprise that more offices are now incorporating workspaces specially designed to stimulate creativity, collaboration and teamwork. Office spaces are becoming both efficient and fluid in design; interchangeable spaces and modular elements combine with acoustic panels to prevent noise, and the clever use of glass lets in light but allows privacy.
It’s time to bring the outdoors in. We’re not talking about a few potted plants – this is about living wall and plant installations and earthy designs throughout the office. After all, research shows that plants have a positive physical and psychological effect on employees. They can also absorb sound and help clean the air. Along the “green” theme, many offices are also accommodating bike racks, change room facilities and lots of locker storage, rather than car spaces.
Social spaces, relaxation areas and games rooms will no longer be confined to creative agencies. Even the most corporate offices are embracing more fun and casual designs inside and outside – also known as the Google Effect. This includes big communal eating areas, breakout spaces for lunch, ping-pong tables, rooftop gardens complete with hammocks, and more.
Vibrant colours, bold patterns and graphic prints will make a statement in modern office fitouts. Not only on the walls, but on furniture and structural elements too – staircases, beams, columns, floors and lights will start featuring eye-catching designs on a super scale. Think motivational quotes, neon signage, and big branding throughout the environment.
New research by the Sax Institute in partnership with Cancer Council NSW reveals that replacing one hour of sitting with standing can increase a worker’s lifespan by at least five per cent. So in addition to ergonomic chairs, where almost every part is adjustable, expect to see an influx of height-adjustable desks and workstations. Sit-to-stand workstations allow workers sit or stand at their desk, reducing back strain and promoting good health. Sit-to-stand workstations can also act as a “touchdown” station for workers who are in-between meetings, allowing them to quickly check emails without even sitting down.
Home away from home
We spend most of our working life at the office, so it already feels like a second home. Now, office designs are taking this a step further by invoking a uniquely residential feel. For example, an open plan office might include home-like breakout rooms complete with beanbag chairs, sofas and soundproofing, creating a private retreat from the bustle of the office.