Are you renovating an office property?
Offices have come a long way from the cubicles of the ‘70’s. Wherever you look, open office layouts appear to be the most popular choice for both investors and companies.
But although the open office design was originally intended to improve collaboration and free employees from working under the scrutiny of Big Brother, more and more businesses are moving away from a pure open office plan to alternative layouts.
Open Office Plans Result In Less Productivity
Open office plans may offer more opportunities for collaboration, but they also leave employees more vulnerable to interruptions. The frequency of distractions has resulted in a less productive workplace and is the source of higher stress levels among employees.
In the face of numerous distractions and very little private space, many employees in open office plan attempt to create at least a modicum of privacy with elaborate dividers constructed of plants, bookshelves, or simply by putting on headphones.
As a result, companies are reconsidering open office plans.
Create A Mix Of Open And Enclosed Spaces
Companies haven’t abandoned the open office concept completely, however. Instead, they are choosing to create a mix of open and private spaces.
Instead, companies are carving out spaces that offer a place for a smaller group of people to come together, as well private spaces for those who want total focus. Included as well are spaces where smaller groups can come together to socialize informally, such as a library or cafe.
Touchdown Spaces: The New “Private” Office
Another type of space offered by employers is more of a “touchdown” space. These companies have large numbers of employees who are out of the office for large chunks of the day. Rather than dedicate entire rooms to employees who are mostly out, these companies have created functional spaces where individuals can plug in a laptop, check their voice mail, and do some basic filing.
Employees can then move to a different space depending on their schedule. Meetings mean they’ll move to a conference room; if it’s private, they can use one of the private enclaves.
Although technically these enclaves are smaller, the reduction in size allows companies to add spaces that support more “fun” activities. A cafe, resource center, library, or coffee bar are some of the rooms companies have added to the space saved.
Allowing space for movement has not only made employees more productive but has also decreased the amount of stress employees experience. And making sure that employees have an opportunity to choose the type of space that suits them best also helps increase employee satisfaction.
Technology Has Changed The Way People Work
Another factor that has influenced office layouts and the amount of space dedicated to individual employees is the shift towards virtual offices.
More businesses are allowing employees to choose their own hours. With the growth of technology, more and more people work together without ever seeing the person “in real life.”
Because companies still want some level of face-to-face interaction, these companies have set aside space for virtual employees to meet with other staff or clients.
Devices such as smartphones and tablets have also allowed employees to go away from their desks and wander amongst the various departments in order to collaborate and get feedback about projects.
One Size Does Not Fit All
There are numerous ways to arrange a workplace, but each business must be careful to use a design that supports the goals of the business.
Part of this means considering space demands over time, allowing employees to make changes in the layout as demands shift according to the type of task or size of the team. It also means that if employers allow some of its workforce to work from home, the space saved can result in significant savings for the company.
Bring The Outdoors In
Companies are also adding nature and nature inspired items into the workplace. Whether it’s subtle patterns in the fabric or actual living plants on the walls, adding natural elements not only looks better but creates a sense of calm essential to the workplace.
Limited Permanent Layouts
Trendsetting investors are including layouts that allow modular components to be mixed or moved around are also becoming more popular. This trend takes it’s inspiration from the tiny house movement, which focuses on allowing each space to serve more than one function.
For investors, a mix of open space and private areas will appeal to many if not most tenants; combined with small touches that bring in air, light and nature, these re-vamped properties are sure to please.