4 modern workspace design trends to guide office spaces in the near future
In the wake of a world transformed by a pandemic, businesses around the world are rethinking the design of their modern offices. In Archinect’s survey of the architectural community, nearly 60% of respondents said they expected architectural and design changes in offices.
Part of that change comes from security and information concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, many offices have added security features and precautions such as one-way corridors and plexiglass barriers between offices. If transparent partitions become permanent elements, how can architects ensure that they fit both aesthetically and practically? It is not known if and how these pandemic-related measures will become an integral part of the layout of offices around the world once the pandemic is over.
Another major factor is the cultural shift of so many office workers shifting to remote work – and sometimes thriving there. By allowing people to work from home with little interruption from their main tasks, technology has changed the relationship people have with their workspaces.
The people who will go back in the office now have different expectations of how their workplace layout should serve them. The more people work from home, the more office space seems to become unnecessary. Now, innovative workplace solutions such as shared workstations in the office (or “hospitality”) and rotating workdays should take priority.
Consider the recent history of open plan office designs. In the late 2010s, open plan office layouts were extremely popular in response to a long history of cubicles. Yet some experts have debunked the idea that open office spaces offer advantages in communication and productivity. This was even before the pandemic required workers to have the ability to stay safe through social distancing. So if cabins are a thing of the past and open space offices are not the answer, what is it?
Amidst all of this turmoil, one constant remains: change will continue to happen and businesses must be ready to pivot. It is clear that the relationship with technology has changed the way office spaces work, and smart workplace technology can provide solutions to modern problems as well. Whether it’s adding contactless functionality or updating modular furniture systems, there are many tools available to organization and design professionals to provide safe and welcoming office environments for everyone.
Next Generation Design Strategies
Despite the challenges of changing work environments, designers have the opportunity to design agile workspaces that meet the needs of all stakeholders. They just have to keep in mind a few trends regarding office space planning.
1. Flexibility always dampens uncertainty.
What the offices will look like in five years remains unclear. Still, designing office floor plans with a flexibility-focused mindset can overcome any uncertainty. A dynamic, smarter workspace design that delivers incredible agility and proper storage will allow an organization to make immediate changes. And it will help many companies across multiple industries to remain stable.
2. Design and safety must go hand in hand.
It is not enough to design beautiful workspaces. Instead, these beautiful workspaces need to breathe security. Workers want to feel comfortable and confident returning to the office, even if they only come to work a few days a week. Therefore, modern office designs should consider ways to maximize the orientation of modular office equipment and furniture to promote social distancing and safety guidelines while maximizing available space in the workplace. .
3. Workplaces should encourage collaboration.
One of the reasons collaborative workspaces gained traction was their connection to employee engagement. However, old-fashioned shared desktops are no longer feasible, especially when people can come to the office only for scheduled meetings. Create spaces that people can customize and rearrange for their immediate needs using modular furniture. Smart building technology and smart cabinets with lockable storage that can be quickly readjusted can accommodate a variety of features while allowing workers to feel in control.
4. Small technologies can play a disproportionate role.
A central element of next-generation workspaces will be smart workplace technology through IoT devices. More and more workers will use desktop and portable computing solutions, allowing them to interact not only with each other, but also with their atmosphere. For example, smart locks indicate which parts of a smart building were recently used by employees and were not. Usage analyzes available from these devices can inform office investments for business owners, space resource allocations for office managers, and cleaning and disinfection schedules for janitorial staff. Smart building solutions can be essential in keeping workplaces nimble and flexible.
The past year has not been easy for many companies or office designers, but it has fueled innovative thinking and solutions. Designers can use changing market forces to inform their next moves – and make workspaces functional, even during a pandemic.