Why is it so important?
It is said that people spend almost ⅓ of the day at work. It depends on the particular country regulations, but the number of hours worked per day is considerable. This is why it is important to find the job that brings satisfaction, is well paid and gives many development possibilities. Another important factor is the location – the distance between home and work. The office design itself is a crucial element as well – maybe not the thing that is taken into consideration when choosing the next workplace, but it makes difference how the space is organized. Office is not only the place to spend time there, but also to be productive, to focus, to be able to work efficiently, when required – to work with the team. Sometimes, to relax. Offices should transmit the organizational culture.
Although some of the office design aspects are the subjects of health and safety regulations, some of them are not. Regulations may be regarding the specific sizes of furniture, the distance between the chair and desk, the light, the safe space for each of the employees. However they don’t mention the additional equipment elements, don’t mention colors that are allowed and non-standard design elements.
Surveys conducted among the employees of different companies, mention that people tend to pay more attention to the design-related elements. The innovative design encourages people to work for an innovation like Capital One’s survey says. It was thought that working ambiance, the design in the office should favor the work, so the accessories or just the equipment are not so important, but it has been changing.
Productivity & Creativity
Although the productivity may sound like a buzzword for some, it is worth recalling also when speaking about the interior design. Properly designed office space can help eliminate unnecessary interactions. People should be able to focus, be able to speak within a professional ambiance. The walls are not enough – like it was seen in “old-fashioned” boxes in offices. The space itself is also very important. A possibility to have an alternative desk. People struggle with productivity and admit that there are some factors that disturb them at work.
Those with the creative job also value the workspace. Sitting at the desk doesn’t encourage the creative ideas. The respondents of the above mentioned survey said that the office itself should be innovative if the company requires innovation. It is difficult to say if the office design really stimulates the creative thinking. The tendency to arrange the spaces creatively came from the start ups that focused on comfortable offices that matched the needs of the employees – ex.the bikeparks, the plants, the vast space to chill out or to network. This kind of work considerably differs from the work in banking, but it’s being adapted by more “conservative” sectors that can be seen here.
Apart from the innovation, the most important is that the design should respond to the people needs: the space should accommodate the number of people that are working in the company. It should respond to the people’s needs, their working habits and also to the technological challenges.
Diving deeper, it means that the bigger number of people working, the bigger is space to arrange. The open space has a very negative connotations, it brings to mind the offices straight from 80s or 90s that made working very hard and were considered to be a negative symbol of unfriendly corporations. As everyone works on the very same space, it makes for example talking on the phone harder. The modern open space has a different meaning. Another name seems to be more suitable here – a common space where everyone works. Without the need to stick to very same desk everyday, the common space makes it possible to sit in different places in the office. An opposite trend was to sit in smaller rooms. People divided into teams, the most important executives in the spare room. Open spaces used to gather the negative opinions and this considered, the solution of diving all the people in the office into smaller rooms, sounded reasonable. But it also stands on the opposition to the smart working.
The very important is that not everyone has the same working habits. People acquire knowledge in a different way, focus differently and prefer different environment. Those problems can be partially solved by alternative office arrangements methods, just like for example smart working. Smart working means that employees are not attached just to the one desk, so theoretically they can sit wherever they want in the office. Companies change their policies and authorize this method. We can find more advantages of this phenomenon – companies can save on the workplaces, because not everyone comes to work everyday. If the workplace is not fixed, employees don’t use unnecessary objects. Once again less waste matters a lot nowadays. The security measures taken by some companies made it necessary to for example decrease the print documents or even handwritten notes.
Just like at the age of modernism, the biggest challenge the designers faced, was to catch up with technology changes. Today this challenge is still present, but the scale is different. As many companies are going global, they outsource some company departments to different countries, there are fewer business trips, so the need to remotely help clients is growing. This makes it indispensable to have dedicated rooms for the calls – the so-called phone booths. For the meetings with bigger group, it is necessary to arrange the conference rooms able to accommodate sufficient number of people, with the necessary equipment for conference calls, presentations etc.
Besides the basic matters, like space arrangement, the accessories play also an important role in the office space design. The same survey I was linking to above, shows that employees pay a huge attention to details. Not all of the details are related to the work itself. Observing the examples of offices that have been named the most inspiring, we can observe the similar patterns – the plants – offices are green. Ecology and environment-friendly lifestyle can be noticed in offices as well.
Another second motive that repeats is the furniture. It tends to be less “office furniture”. As we can see, people can work at more casual desks that more remind the cafes than office. It came up that people can work at cafe tables, in the common spaces, in more flexible ambiance. The common spaces or the guest spaces can be equipped with designer-like furniture that can be associated with the class.
Another type of office where the design matters are the coworking spaces. The places dedicated for freelancers or startups are becoming more and more popular. The study made by GCUC shows that there were over 14K coworking offices around the world and about 1,74M members. The number of office is likely to double by 2022 and it is forecasted that there will be 4 times more members. There is no need anymore to work in the cafes as the coworking offices help those who cannot afford their own office. They offer not only the work-like ambiance, but also unique design.
Those who would rather prefer staying at home than going anywhere (even to fancy coworking space), chose the good old home office. Remote work has become also very popular and it is considered as one of the employee benefits. Employees value the possibility to work flexibly and working from home is an attractive possibility for those who prefer to stay at home and work without any distractions. There are some solutions that can make working at home easier. Those who are lucky enough to have a separate room acting as a study, are free to choose the most comfortable working conditions for them. The same as in case of offices outside home, it is important to care about the proper lighting, big desk and accessories to add the coziness.
If there’s no possibility to arrange the office in a spare room, it’s important to figure out the improvements to an open space, e.g. separating the desk with a glass door, movable door or just the doors that would divide the space into smaller pieces, like in this visualization:
The points mentioned above show that office and work plays an important role in people’s lives and there are many reasons why the work space should be organized properly to make working easier and more rewarding. And if the space is dedicated to work, it is good to think about some additional accessories that would make this space cozier.
Those who are still looking for ideas for the workspace adaptation, may find some ideas in Viscato portfolio. So far, we’ve realized the projects for about 15 offices. You can check more Viscato works here.