Rethinking Office Design
Technological advancements and demographics are dramatically changing office design. Gone are rows of file cabinets — most data is stored in the cloud. Cubicles and large private offices have been replaced by workstation benches or huddle areas for team projects. Privacy pods are quietly emerging in office settings.
As millennials and Generation Z employees dominate the workforce, office design is adapting to their mobile, casual lifestyles. More employees are taking advantage of telecommuting options, and those that still come to the office want a relaxed environment.
Silicon Valley companies first transformed the workspace to be more inviting and responsive to a younger generation of employees. Many of these adaptations have become mainstream in offices across the country. Research has found that workplace environment significantly impacts productivity, employee satisfaction and absenteeism, with employee performance dipping as much as 30% when mismanaged.
Facility managers and interior designers are rethinking how office spaces can respond better to the needs of a younger, mobile and technologically savvy workforce:
- Wearable devices and big data analytics enable companies to better understand how their employees work and interact. Information gathered on employee movements, meetings, speech patterns and posture are captured and analyzed with data on sales, revenue and employee retention rates. The resulting analyses enable companies to create environments conducive to productivity.
- Younger workers who grew up amidst technology are accustomed to sharing files and working collaboratively. They seek greater flexibility in their work environments and are less concerned about “owning” a desk or office space.
- With more employees telecommuting regularly, fewer assigned desks are needed. Those employees who continue to come to the office are requesting adjustable-height desks, treadmill workstations, wireless desks for mobile connectivity and data-integrated tables.
- Private or quiet spaces are needed in offices for employees who want to concentrate and don’t want interruptions or background noise. Many offices have introduced privacy pods and instituted silent zones in certain areas.
- Activity-based design creates separate spaces suited for collaboration on a specific task. Two-thirds of employees believe they are more effective when they work collaboratively. Small conference rooms are morphing into areas resembling an employee lounge with acoustic seating and interactive furniture.
- With technological advancements driving rapid changes in job functions, companies are challenged to predict future staffing needs. Many businesses are looking for workspaces and furniture that are adaptable and flexible.
 “5 Disruptive Office Design Trends for the Modern Workplace,” Project Control Group blog, July 31, 2017. Available at: http://blog.pcg.com.au/5-disruptive-office-design-trends-for-the-modern-workplace
 “Five Office Design Trends to Watch in 2017,” by Jeff Pochepan, Inc. blog, Jan. 11, 2017. Available at: https://www.inc.com/jeff-pochepan/five-office-design-trends-to-watch-in-2017.html; “5 Disruptive Office Design Trends for the Modern Workplace,” Project Control Group blog, July 31, 2017. Available at: http://blog.pcg.com.au/5-disruptive-office-design-trends-for-the-modern-workplace; and “9 Essential Workplace Design Developments for 2017 & Beyond,” SBFI blog, 2017. Available at: http://www.sbfi.com/workplace-design-trends-2017#sthash.yGNMSSLT.dpbs
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