Offices have long since ceased to be thought of as just a place people go to work in. Now in the age of transformative technology, consideration is given to how these spaces can boost employee productivity and happiness while reducing stress and reflecting the office culture. Here are just a few ways that the future workspace may differ from traditional offices.
To illustrate several points throughout this article we’ve used the images of OMD UK’s London offices (courtesy of robwilsonphotography.co.uk), designed to represent their personality and allow creativity and collaboration to flow.
Flexible work spaces may overtake open plan layouts
Flexible workspaces have already started to creep in on the traditional open plan workspace – the practice of ‘Hot Desking’, allowing employees to move and work freely anywhere in the office is already used by some innovative businesses.
The psychology behind this is simple; if an employee is struggling to work in one area due to noise, temperature or simply getting distracted by their surroundings, they can move to a new workspace. This gives control to the employee, encouraging feelings of empowerment and self-management as well as increased productivity & creativity.
At Innocent’s Fruit Towers, London, staff are encouraged to sit somewhere new each day to suit their needs – encouraging collaboration and socialising between all staff. Innocent’s CEO said, “It’s been hugely successful for us. We have had far fewer staff sick days, with more than a 10 percent reduction in days off”. Similarly JWT’s New York officespace has been designed to have no private offices, instead opting for bright, colourful areas where groups can meet, which is said to encourage creative harmonies.
The furniture of flexible work spaces
Some of the most forward thinking offices have been designed to elevate and encourage flexible working. It can be as small as Skullcandy’s interchangeable jigsaw desks in Zurich or as large as The Barbarian Group’s New York offices with a 4,400 sq. ft. ‘super desk’, a creation that winds throughout the office and includes archways staff can meet under for private chats.
Google’s London offices have several unique working areas, each with their own name and theme, but whether it’s the Velourmptious Snug or the Lala Library, they’ve all been designed with the employees’ in mind.
A workspace should inspire its staff
Have you seen Ogilvy & Mather’s carnival themed office in China? Entitled “A Carnival of Ideas” this award winning workspace aims to inspire employees with its creativity. The local district of Fang Cun is known for arts & culture, so this workspace is a pleasure for staff and locals alike.
Angel Solutions have similar creative aspirations. Their Liverpool offices have a circus theme, with a ball pool, a big top tent and several life-sized zoo animal sculptures. The company has stated that this mad idea has been a huge success, inspiring their employees while impressing their clients with creativity.
New office tech aims to improve employee well being
The correct work environment relies on more than just the use of physical space – it’s hard to work when an office is too hot, too noisy or too bright. New advances in sensor technology aim to combat this by making workspaces reactive, monitoring light intensity & spectrum, sound amplitude & direction, air quality and even odour all while adjusting the environment to create the perfect work atmosphere for employees.
And if you’re thinking this sounds like Science Fiction remember the first reactive office is due to open in 2020.
They may even be entirely virtual
VR is being rolled out in the workspace. Lloyds recently unveiled plans to use VR in their recruitment scheme, using the software to test candidates in virtual situations. VR is also being used to solve issues of physical space – most employees can only fit two or three screens on their desk, but new startup Space solves this problem by simulating up to six screens at once. As more people are able to work from home, a fully networked simulated workspace may not be so far away.
How do you think the workspace of the future might change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.