Chris Carmen / October 21, 2019
Good design is good design, whether it’s built into an office building, a hotel, or a home. The exact meaning of what “good design” is depends largely on the preferences and needs of the people who will occupy the space. As we learn more about ourselves and what work environment drives us to do our best work, design trends tend to change.
In the realm of office buildings, property developers are re-imagining design to think of the big picture instead of the individual offices within the space. Office buildings are transforming into spaces that are fully optimized for employees to work anywhere, rather than just at designated desks. Landlords are becoming keenly aware of the changing American workforce and the office environments employees will seek with employers, and likewise, the office space employers will occupy in order to attract this changing workforce.
To reach this goal, 4 trends can be clearly seen happening in modern office building design:
#1 Flexible Spaces
Modern offices need a variety of different spaces to serve the needs of individual workers and teams. One of the largest growing office trends today is a move toward flexible work environments. It all starts with design that’s tailored to meet as many needs as possible rather than creating something that looks like a static traditional office.
Cubicles and open offices are out in favor of mixed style offices. Newer offices may have dedicated workspaces for employees, but they’re also likely to have team rooms, quiet work zones, collaboration spaces, and other smaller environments within the same building. Employees are able to choose where they want to work, enhancing their productivity in the process. Along with the spaces themselves being more flexible, accessories and furniture should be able to adapt to employee needs more easily. Many offices are adopting non-traditional seating areas, styled to look more like cafes or hotels than offices. No longer to companies have ‘Break Rooms’…now they have open cafes where employees can enjoy a quiet lunch, hold an informal meeting. The purpose o is to help employees fully utilize their workspaces for maximum productivity. Workspaces that are fully flexible tend to suit the preferences or needs of more employees. Further, work spaces that can be utilized for multiple purposes will save companies money by leasing less overall space.
Today’s workforce is increasingly made up of millennials, with Gen Z entering the mix slowly. Newer generations of workers tend to prioritize eco-friendly buildings that provide noticeable benefits for the environment instead of just trivial nods. It’s no longer enough to simply have recycling waste cans.
Offices that incorporate sustainable features are more attractive to millennial workers. This could include anything from grey water recycling to solar power or bamboo flooring. Going green has to be more than just a trivial potted plant in the corner. Buildings that attempt to lower their carbon footprint in creative ways can differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
#3 Technological Adaptability
Tech is taking over office spaces. Developers cannot be expected to anticipate and build for the needs of every future tenant, but the office spaces they build should be adaptable for modern tech uses. Power and internet connectivity should be strong and heavily present, not only within the tenant workspaces, but also in the common areas of the buildings, where employees can step away from the office, but still work remotely from common tenant lounges and lobby seating areas, or even at on-premise outdoor patios. Convenient features should be built into relevant workspaces and tenants should find it easy to integrate their own tech into the office.
It’s less about hard-wired connections like phone lines or ethernet cables and more about making every office compatible with a large array of technology. Tenants will bring their own setup; office buildings just need to make it excessively easy to connect it.
#4 Optimizing Natural Light
Multiple studies demonstrate the positive impact of natural light on people’s moods and productivity. Good office design harnesses natural light and provides every employee within the office with adequate lighting. Skylights, large windows, open floorplans, and other design elements can all play into spreading natural light around the office.
This is an ongoing trend, but it shows no sign of losing momentum. Employees spend a large chunk of their day inside the office. By incorporating more natural light, you can encourage a healthy mental state and potentially increase people’s productivity. And this is being extended to the outdoors, where landlords have begun to transform once unused areas surrounding their buildings to outdoor patios where employees of the tenants of the building can enjoy the outdoors, weather permitting.
Design preferences evolve over time. As one generation passes the working mantel on to another, the preferences of the newer generation of workers start to make a larger impact on workplaces. Current trends are adapting workplaces to better suit employees who are now spending more time at work and employers who want to encourage higher productivity across the board.
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