We have witnessed an evolution of office trends over the years. Days of the cubicle focused office are slowly fading and we now look towards designing spaces that contain a diversity of influences and address various needs. A major consideration of office design is human need and increasing the efficiency of Human Capital, one of the most valuable assets any business has. The macro trend is spotlighting people, from consumers to individual employee and teams. Advancements in technology changes the way people work, and are key factors in how design is accommodating for a new era of offices.
Creative office space design considerations include looking at a combination of factors including, the culture of the office, flexibility, various work tasks, and technology. These must be correlated to the individual needs of each employee, project teams, and management. The individual needs of the employee arise from influences such as:
- Work DemandsMoodRitualsHabitsCollaborative Work vs. Focused WorkPersonality
Employee choice is a key element in designing spaces that foster creativity and allow people to work in various environments. The habits and rituals of the employees must be balanced with the demands of the work objective. These can be surveyed or observed by designers to best accommodate the business and employee needs during the design process. Having an architect on board early on in the process of considering a new office space can allow them to observe how your existing space functions and ways to increase productivity by designing for the unique aspects of your employees, project teams, and management style.
In order to create environments that workers enjoy, designers must provide a variety of spaces that enable people to work the way they choose, based on their current mood. Sometimes someone will be more efficient in an open office setting, with lots of activity and noise. Other times they might want to recede into a solitary quiet area to focus on a particular task. Choice is a key component to worker satisfaction. Offering these types of spaces and allowing employees to chose the environment that best suits them at a given time can greatly increase their productivity, happiness, and the business's bottom line.
Encouraging workers to get up out of their desks and engage with one another is a key in collaborative design but also aids in the health of the workers. Casual conversations, physical activity, and observing other projects can all spark the imagination and lead to creative problem solving. Many tech start-ups and other creatively focused companies design spaces that foster interaction between teams and people with various expertise. By talking to people with different perspectives and knowledge bases, new concepts could arise. These ideas could lead to new products, new solutions, or more efficient ways to solve a problem.
Another attitude shift in designing for office spaces is that it is now equally important for office spaces to be functional but also beautiful. Employers are now concerned with the aesthetic value of the workplace as a branded environment that reflects their company's ethos. There also is an emphasis on creating elegant spaces in order to allure and retain workers who are now less influenced by money alone. Working in a beautiful space is a perk that companies use to attract the best talent. Design excellence is proving it's value by showing that the best people want to work in great spaces.
In contemporary offices there tend to be less fixed offices and more shared spaces allowing for shared amenities. However, these type of work environments should also maintain the balance between introverted vs. extroverted workers and accommodating for both personalities and their preferred working environment. Public vs Private rooms must be carefully considered. The configuration of these must reflect the preference of workers and percentage of use that is considered over the work week and year for efficiency. Having these be flex spaces, that anyone can use can also accommodate the changes throughout the day in an individuals mood, needs, and task. It also allows for the flexibility of people working remotely and coming into the office only occasionally as needed.
As we start space planning and working on the programming for a new office, the balance of shared spaces to private spaces can be accurately determined while reflecting the values of the workers by engaging them in the design process. We see tremendous value in including our clients in the design process. To us, clients aren't just the ones paying for the project but also the users themselves. We strive to listen to and observe how the users work and what they think they want and need in a space before we make final design decisions. Their input can be key in determining the most efficient layout and having environments where they can thrive. This will be the best method to increase productivity that leads to happy workers thus happy customers.
New technology allows work to happen from anywhere yet face to face interaction and spontaneous connections are necessary to support an organizational community and thriving social needs. Successful design must respond the unique work culture of your company while establishing priorities for human health and happiness. It is important that the organization’s mission and goals are reflected through the design while accommodating personalization and individual team members. The design must inspire employees, reflect the organizational mission, and create a workspace that they want to spend time in.
Dynamic design solutions best accommodate a wide range of tasks, attitudes, settings and individual needs while being a beautiful space to work.
Our most recent project had us team with ADX Portland, Intel, Design Museum Portland and the Forest Park Elementary School to design and build a giant interactive snap-cirucit like installation titled Circuit-Tree. We led the conceptual design aspect of the project, utilizing input from parents and faculty from the school, and the fabrication team here at ADX. Our renderings offered guidance for the students to come into the ADX shop and actually design and build elements for the installation. Kids learned how to solder, design an electrical circuit, use the bandsaw, carve and sand wood, and develop designs for aspects of the wall.
More on this project here: Circuit-Tree Interactive Wall