Modernising the Workplace
In today’s world, we live in a much more technologically inclusive age. This has impacted and changed the way we shop, the way we travel and many more aspects of day to day life. However, one place it has really transformed is the workplace. More and more, businesses from small to corporate are embracing a more flexible, open and collaborative way of working. This can also be seen in their offices and work environments. But, how is this achieved, and also most importantly, what are the benefits of a business adopting this? This article hopes to answer those questions.
Open Plan is the Way Forward
What is the similarity between the offices of the world’s biggest and most successful businesses? What about arguably the world’s most creative and innovative companies? The main similarity you will see is the types of offices that their employees work within. They all may have different colors and layouts, but the truth of the matter is they all work within open-plan spaces. These are spaces that have limited walls separating spaces and embrace an open and airy culture. They often promote collaboration and teamwork because of their open and airy nature.
What are the benefits of this office structure? Well, the main one is that it promotes higher productivity and creativity within its workforce. The reason behind this is because there are no real separated offices, people do no feel enclosed, and their office and workspace is open and free. This is subjective but this also symbolizes what this office design is doing. It is not limiting their thoughts and creativity to four walls, it is making their employees feel open, and at one with the business.
Although the benefits are great, this is not without saying that this type of office design comes with some disadvantages. One of the main ones is the lack of privacy. These types of offices usually do away with private offices, and everyone shares one space. This has been seen to often lead to higher stress-related illnesses within a companies workforce due to the lack of privacy, as some people prefer working that way. So, regardless of how you want to modernize the workspace for your business, always remember that there will be many advantages but keep an eye out for the disadvantages as well.
Along with being open workspaces, these workspaces also operate a high amount of technological enhancements too. Along with wifi and more emphasis on networking and connectivity for remote working and fixtures like a wifi temperature sensor, modern offices will be taking technology further.
Technology is being seen to be fixing one of the biggest disadvantages of the open office space trend. A sector that has grown in popularity as networking has become more advanced, and people seek more seamless technology, is home automation. Opening your phone and clicking a button to pull the blinds down, or put the kettle on. All the way to press a button at the gate, and as it opens your house starts to change and adjust itself ready for you to enter the door. The kettle boiling, the lights on and dimmed for the evening, curtains drawn, TV on your favorite channel, the works. So, what does this have to do with modern workspaces? The future may lay in the world of workspace automation.
Picture this, a pod located inside an open-space office. It can be used as a meeting room, and then if someone else comes and it’s free, taps a few buttons and within a couple of seconds, the room becomes a group meeting space, or a private solo office, or a board room. The technology is already here, with glass that can frost and de-frost, switching from being private to open. We have the networking capabilities proven by the more and more advanced home automation systems that we can control using the smartphones in our pockets and tablets on the coffee table. This could add that need for privacy, whilst keeping the open-plan office space, alive. Technology gives us the tools to do that.
Focus on Wellbeing
A subject that has dominated the recent news when it comes to company workspaces, is wellbeing. Mental wellbeing, in particular, has been a buzzword with more and more employees suffering from poor mental health. One reason is due to the workload and poor workspaces, hence the growth of open plan, new and modern offices that are springing up around the business world. Collaboration and being able to be open and speak to people has been said to improve mental wellbeing, and being included in an open space will sure help relieve stress.
Something Google was made famous for was its infamous offices. From ball bits, to ‘seclusion pods’ or ‘napping pods’. Terf inside, and there was a story of free donuts.
These, although they would want you to feel that way, is not just Google being trigger happy with the buy now button whilst shopping for office furniture. These are calculated moves. All of these things are simply designed to relieve stress within their employees. Take a little nap in your lunch hour, free gifts and more. These all show the employees that one, Google is caring for them and thinks of them within the huge remit of products they manage. But also, by doing this, they have been able to achieve a huge level of workspace productivity which has been the main driving force of their success in the technology industry.
These changes in workspaces and new ways of making employees feel comfortable in the place they work have all been the byproduct of studies for many years, showing that the way of working before simply does not work today.
(Image to the left, Image Source, Pexels
Comfort and Work
And that point leads nicely into this one, and that is why comfort has been the main focus for new collaborative workspaces that are in force today. If you have worked in offices of the ’80s and even the ’90s, the structure would normally entail rows and rows of desks and computers. Mutes colour schemes and a focus on function rather than form. However, today, if you walk into the corporate office of somewhere such as Google or a trendy new start-up, the picture is very different. It is far more reminiscent of the inside of a coffee shop, mixed with some play centers and a dashing of office space. The primary reason for this is to enhance comfort whilst working. If the employees are comfortable, then they will be more willing to work, produce high-quality work, and henceforth increase workspace productivity. All of the numbers have a financial benefit for the business in the long run, so these changes really are beneficial to implement.
Catering for all
As more and more people are working later in life, today we have found ourselves with offices that now support possibly two or even three generations of people. From generation X, who knew of the ‘80’s office space very well, to the Z, who live and breath technology. Offices, in order to cater to their employees, must take this into account as everyone will have a different way of working to their fullest potential. However, some have argued this is not as big of a deal, with people like Jeremy Myerson saying;
“Research suggests that the common needs between generational cohorts at work are far greater than the differences between generations, so intergenerational conflict at work is over-hyped,”
So, this is a fact that is definitely being spoken about, and something that should be in the back of your mind when thinking about your office space.
How will Data Impact Business Workspaces and Workplaces?
Lastly, something that is really informing and making a huge impact on the way offices are built and used, is big data. Firms and companies around the world, are using more and more data taken from their employees to inform their workspace choices.
Something mentioned quite often in this article is productivity levels. This is a figure that a company would love to raise, as this means more work, quality work, for their money which means value. With the world that we live in today, with data being collected all the time from many different sources, expect more and more reliance on big data when companies want to make big decisions.
So, this is how many businesses are modernizing their workspaces. Although there is more and more reliance on technology, there is one topic that stays true through all of these modernization techniques, and that is human contact. The reason more and more people are using co-working spaces like WeWork and others is that even though they are using multiple forms of technology to finish their work, as humans we still crave contact. A quick chat at the coffee station, speaking to the barista, having a chat with those around you. No matter how much technology we have in our workspaces today, the importance of face to face contact has never changed and will not change going forward.