To nail your new office design today, focus on tomorrow.
Workplace design trends are changing, so thinking ahead is crucial for any entrepreneur moving to a new location or giving their existing office a redesign, according to Dezeen. Michael O'Neill, head of research at office furniture company Haworth, told the architecture and design magazine that changing employee demographics and social norms are making the planning process for office design much less straightforward than 15 years ago.
"[W]e need to consider the impact of mobile technology, employees' demand for choice over the type and location of their work, and especially the implications of culture on workplace design," O'Neill said.
Here are three things to keep in mind when designing a new workplace.
1. Focus on flexibility.
More than 80 percent of companies in a recent survey by furniture manufacturer KI reported that new hires coming straight from college struggled with transitioning from a "flexible collegiate atmosphere" to the more structured corporate world. "That means new hires take longer to understand their new corporate role and are at increased risk of leaving their company altogether," ConstructionDive writes.
To create a comfortable environment that will help these Millennials stay productive, it's important to offer choices within the office for where they can get their work done, according to ConstructionDive, a news site for the building industry. This means providing private places for collaboration in small teams, open areas that are conducive to both work and meals, and quiet spaces so employees can focus alone or rest.
2. Design for inclusiveness.
Designing for the future requires factoring in how demographic changes might impact your future workforce, whether that pertains to Millennials, Baby Boomers, wheelchair-bound employees, and other groups you may not have even thought about yet, according to Dezeen. For example, offering single-occupancy or unisex bathroom facilities is one way to be more sensitive to the needs of transgender employees.
"If your time frame is several years out, you need to be designing spaces to accommodate the next generation and also have a more inclusive environment that supports the needs of all generations," Haworth's O'Neill told Dezeen.
3. Embrace active design.
One trend in office design that's expected to have a significant impact on future workplaces is active design, which refers to an office that encourages walking and movement. Office designers can accomplish this by making cinderblock stairways more attractive with colorful graphics and better light, or by putting copy centers on the opposite side of the office from the kitchen.
"Offices are incubators for sedentary behavior," Keith Perske, executive managing director of workplace innovation at commercial real estate firm Colliers, told ConstructionDive. "The real value of the workplace is about encouraging the culture of the company and encouraging certain behaviors."
For Haworth's O'Neill, the key to designing for the future is educating yourself on the likely needs of the next generation of workers. "Most people just assume that this new generation will just be an extension of Generation Y," he told Dezeen. "It's not true."