Love it or hate it, the open plan office space has transformed the workplace. However, smart businesses are increasingly using open workspace design principles, recognising that one size might not in fact fit all employees when it comes to designing office space. Whilst the benefits of open plan office spaces versus their hierarchical, cubicle and private office predecessors are well known – increased collaboration, noise, good air quality, more natural light, increased communication – many people still find it challenging to work in such spaces.
Open plan office vs open workspace design
Poorly designed open plan spaces run the risk of being too noisy, or too quiet for tasks requiring extended periods of focus. Privacy for sensitive conversations can also be hard to find in a purely open plan office. The next generation of open workspace design focuses instead on how to zone the available space, considering all the possible needs of employees and teams to maximise the ease of use within the architecture of the space.
With the rise in flexible technology has come a sea change in how employees expect to work. In good open workspace design, the days of employees arriving at a named desk in the morning, and not moving from that spot until they leave are over. With flexible zones throughout the space, businesses see increased circulation of people – and therefore ideas and the working culture related – which in turn sparks greater collaboration and boosting productivity.
Zoned workspaces for the modern office
Designated zones in an open workspace design need to be well considered, how they are coordinated into the space goes a long way to the success of the space. Consideration for including elements such as low level soft seating – both for individual focused work needing an extended period of attention, and larger, informal group discussions, will need to not impact on quite focused work spaces in the localized area. Where the old fashioned office might have seen a handful of intimidating private corner offices, the modern open workplace will use a variety of open and closed meeting pods, breakout spaces with acoustic baffling suspended from the ceiling or integrated into the furniture to reduce noise, alongside comfortable furniture, enable the posture of the user to be considered and activity based environments where employees can meet, engage and cross-pollinate ideas with flexible bleacher seating, interactive screens and whiteboards, which can be altered to suit varying requirements for the teams, utilizing the technology on offer and sharing information with ease is key. Offering various options for the level of noise within the chosen work setting will also go along way to the success of the open workspace design created, as this is the most common complaint amongst staff.
Benefits of open workspace design
The benefits of good office design are clear – inspiring interiors make for inspired employees. In order to attract, and retain, the top talent it is crucial for companies to curate an office environment where employees feel the culture of the business, feel valued, engaged, and able to perform the various tasks their role demands in a suitable way. With designated spaces for collaboration with technology and whiteboard areas, or cross-team breakout out zones, the modern workplace allows for much greater movement of people, making full use of the available space so there are no ‘dead-zones’ or wasted space, creating the ideal organic space for staff to interact.
As human interaction and communication increases as a natural result of this flow, so too will overall employee satisfaction, the theory goes. Companies who invest in smart design often see a corresponding increase in retention of staff, with increased employee wellbeing meaning fewer days lost to illness too.
Flexible and future proof
As technology allows people to shift even further from the traditional desk-bound computer and landline model, investing in an open and flexible workspace ensures the space is able to adapt to changes in staffing levels, or fluctuations in team functions in a much more agile/ organic way than more traditional open place offices.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how open workspace design can improve results for your business, get in touch with us on 01908 224160. As experts in modern workplace design, we’d love to chat about creating your next inspiring office space.
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