Trends for Office Spaces

May 23, 2014

Trends for Office Spaces

There are many changes this year to office spaces and how companies use them. The biggest change is collaboration. Almost everyone has heard of the partners that started out in their basement, only to feed off one another and grow and grow. At some point, these partners who once fed off the energy of one another had separate offices and soon, that initial energy was lost. What happened? They stopped collaborating. In fact, collaborative or shared workplaces have become the hottest trend among offices. They offer the communication and support that helps employees balance their team time and their thinking time.

On that note, big private offices are heading out the door, as it were. Alternative work environments are a new trend, allowing team members to work in smaller workstations that are all placed in a formation together. In lieu of having a conference room that is down the hall, away from the masses, the conference room is in the center of the workstations. This set up allows team members to be close enough to one another to buzz to one another about a project. Some workstations have doors so that privacy can be obtained when necessary.

Space planning is taking a new turn in modern businesses. Offices are creating shared private enclaves in order to restore the feeling that the partners had in their basement without having to sacrifice office privacy. Every office would have a small work station with a private door and some lounge furniture and tables in the middle that are shared by the employees surrounding the small enclave. This provides team members with the privacy of their own office, but a space where they can go if they need to write notes or conduct research. If they need to make a phone call, they can shut the door to the private central space and make the call. This provides privacy that was lost when companies shifted their employees into open floor plans.

People are starting to more widely accept that employees can be productive even if they are away from their desks. In fact, some employees work better when not tied to their desk. This means that the current workforce should have a desk as a touchdown space, but if they are not often at their desk then their desk can be smaller and supportive of traditional office activities such as filing, email, and voice mail.

Management is also facing new trends. They are rethinking the technologies that are being used. Cordless phones and laptops are becoming the norm for offices, especially when they have multiple places where they can work, and have an enclave. Activity planning is imperative to space designs of offices. Employees should have more activities from which to choose. Most employees walk into the office, check their email and their voicemail, maybe go to a meeting, and then begin their work. Companies can provide a resource center or library, or even a coffee bar where employees can work on non-confidential projects in an open space. It will be interesting to see what further changes are to come.