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What Will The Office Of The Future Look Like?

Herman Miller, Inc. introduced the open office concept in the 1960s. Since then, there’s been an ongoing debate between two camps: people who support “traditional” enclosed office spaces and those for “modern” open offices.

Although aesthetics have changed over the decades, the essentials have remained more or less the same.

Will the office of the future be much different from the office of today? We think so.

Today’s office interior designers are already looking to improve on old standards and usher in some innovation. Nothing is finite, and flexibility is essential.

Right now the types of office design break down into an interesting hybrid, according to the International Facility Management Association:

  • 60 percent open office spaces
  • 32 percent private office spaces
  • 8 percent bullpen office spaces

The trick is finding the right mix of design approaches for your company’s needs. The future of office design will cater to a variety of purposes, such as collaboration or quiet, focused work.

The future of office space design

Closed office spaces

Privacy is perhaps the biggest advantage of enclosed office spaces. With this setup, employees benefit from a dedicated workspace with minimal distractions. Private rooms are a great solution for businesses that require focused, solitary work.

However, most companies don’t need—or want—all of their employees to stay behind closed doors all day. Rather than designing your office spaces around totally enclosed offices, consider installing “micro-offices” to accommodate employees who need private spaces for focused work.

Open office spaces

Opposite to the heads-down productivity of closed offices, open office spaces foster interaction and collaboration amongst employees. Open floor plans also increase transparency, so everyone from management to peers can easily see what others are working on.

The open-office approach is beneficial to teams working on complex projects. For example, Team-X at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory reduced the completion time for their projects from months to days with a non-hierarchical, open system.

Hybrid office spaces

Hybrid spaces offer the best aspects of both enclosed and open offices, with ample spaces for collaborative and individual work. The hybrid office allows workers to choose the best work environment for them depending on their needs. Work spaces might include:

  • Meeting rooms
  • Micro-offices
  • Private workstations
  • Quiet areas
  • Workshopping spaces

More offices will likely adopt the concept of hot-desking, in which there are no assigned seats. Instead, employees choose a workspace upon arriving at the office each day, giving them the freedom to move to another space as the nature of their work changes.

Virtual office spaces

The business world has seen an increase in telework of nearly 80 percent, and the year 2016 is expected to see the number of remote workers climb to 3.9 million in the United States alone, according to Top Management Degrees.

With businesses increasingly allowing workers to adopt flexible schedules and remote work becoming more the norm, telecommunications technology will become key in the office of the future.

Conference rooms will need webcams, screens and connected audio-visual equipment in addition to the standard table and chairs, so that remote workers can participate fully in meetings.

Communal office spaces

The communal areas in the office building now go beyond the usual conference rooms and break room. In addition to collaborative workspaces, shared amenity spaces are in high demand.

Businesses are incorporating all kinds of communal facilities to make the office a place where employees want to be. A bonus is that these amenities encourage workers from different departments to intermingle, which can foster new ideas and innovation.

Some shared amenities that will likely exist in offices of the future include:

  • Coffee bars
  • Community gardens
  • Pet areas
  • Recreation areas
  • Soundproofed music rooms

Health and wellness spaces

One reason shared amenities are expected to be on the rise is due to the renewed focus on work/life balance. Health and wellness, in general, have become hot-button issues for companies and employees.

As a result, businesses are looking for design solutions that promote healthy habits. An active design approach organizes office spaces specifically to encourage walking and movement throughout the workday.

With the active design approach, certain office furniture options work well, such as:

Aside from productivity-focused health considerations, companies can include meditation spaces or chill zones where employees can take breaks from the daily grind.

Plus, businesses can use inclusive design to ensure that office spaces and amenities are accessible to employees in wheelchairs or workers who have other particular needs.

Is your office ready for the future? If you’re considering an update or you just need new ideas, we can help you come up with a plan. Call us at 877.779.3409, or use this form to send us an email.

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