Every year there are some interesting studies done on the future of office design.
As we look into this future, each time we begin to see more and more trends coming to life around us. In their study Office Futures: Workshift, a London property consultancy concluded that employees work best in flexible and diverse environments which give them the opportunity to do focused, independent work.
Last year, Fast Company put together an interesting look at the future of work and what trends we can expect to see. Hubspot echoed this impulse in an article that looked at how innovative companies are changing the workplace. In fact, several others have picked this up over recent years and they always seem to arrive at the same list of conclusions:
Flexible hours, open communication, a comfortable working environment and a renewed interest in human well-being are among the core values shaping tomorrow’s world of work.
Moving Closer To Nature
Researchers have found that adding living plants and greenery to an office can help increase employee productivity by 15%. “A fresh, green office communicates to employees that their employer cares about them and their welfare,” said Psychology Professor Alex Haslam, who co-authored the study. “Office landscaping helps the workplace become a more enjoyable, comfortable and profitable place to be.” he added.
Because of this, companies have started investing in the installation of plants and greenery around the office to help make their employees happier and healthier (and also boost productivity at the same time). For example, Google’s Tel Aviv office in Israel has an indoor orange grove that turns an otherwise normal, collaborative space into a fresh and relaxing area that makes you feel as if you are sitting outside on a park bench.
Nature is having a serious moment in design. We are beginning to see reclaimed wood panel installations, more exposed concrete flooring, incorporation of natural flora patterns in fabrics and artwork are all becoming more prominent, along with plant life itself creeping throughout the workspace in the form of living walls.
Moving Closer To Each Other
At their international office in Switzerland, Skullcandy uses desks that can be reconfigured to work individually or collaboratively. Desks there fit together like puzzle pieces and can be moved, reworked, and reattached as employees see fit — a nod to the values of modern office design, which include mobility, flexibility, and collaboration.
Flexibility is something design experts have been seeing as a growing trend in traditional office spaces, as aged permanent layouts start giving way to the needs of a new ever-changing work landscape. Products designed to have every element move into place and fit together without rule-based planning are at the forefront of the office of the future.
“Modular components can be mixed, stacked and moved around easily, offering innumerable combinations for a dynamic and collaborative workplace“, Steve Delfino, vice president of Corporate Marketing and Product Management at Teknion.
Another alternative to help encourage spontaneous collaboration among your employees is designing your space to allow for overlap zones which make it more likely for your employees to run into each other. To create one of these spaces, begin by considering the following questions: How do your employees move throughout the day? Where do they go? What kind of spaces would cause them to run into each other more frequently?
All of this does not mean that the office environment will be disappearing anytime soon, at heart the office will always hold precious company equipment and information, what we are seeing is a fundamental change in the way that equipment is used and that information shared.
“The most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor,” said Scott Birnbaum, a VP of Samsung Semiconductor. Which explains why the folks at Samsung made plans to build an office that includes huge outdoor areas sandwiched between floors, encouraging employees to hang out and mingle in the shared spaces. According to Birnbaum, the new space is “designed to spark not just collaboration but that innovation” bringing out the difference you see when people collide.