The offices of today are practically unrecognisable compared to their predecessors; the rigid-planned mid-century office or the typing pool structure of the 1960s. Even going back to the 80s, the office layout was still very formulaic, comprising of cellular management offices and the large general office with a plethora of desks screened off in a cubicle format.
Today office design is more customised to specific businesses; just look at Google as the perfect example. Their funky, bright colours, playful furniture and ‘open all hours’ access was designed to fit with the lifestyle of the young, quirky IT geniuses and creative millenials it was hoping to attract.
That’s not to say it would work with every new tech company though. Even companies which on the surface, appear to have a similar employee demographic, are likely to have a unique set of requirements that apply when you bring any group of individuals together. This mix of needs and aspirations from the collective workforce, combines with the values and beliefs of the business itself, to fuse together a defined workplace culture for the business.
Meanwhile, the IT interconnectivity of Wi-Fi means staff today can work freely from any location within the office building, resulting in small break-out areas for focused working, networking desks for company and brain-storming, and even meditation rooms for those times when the need for quiet space makes itself known.
But bosses shouldn’t rest on their laurels. Office design has certainly improved but to be really productive, companies need to look at individual employees, rather than see their workers as one mass that all think and feel the same. In simple terms, some employees will prefer a quiet space to think while others will want a background ‘buzz’ to help them get going.
Generational differences still prevail
Many HR teams have also noticed a difference in generational attitudes to office layouts. That’s because millennials appear to favour open-plan environments along with co-working spaces, shared desk facilities and task-based working where they could find themselves in different parts of the building depending on what project or ‘task’ they were working on that day.
It’s a way of working which is favoured by an increasing number of companies because its focus on shared facilities means a reduced carbon footprint and lower utility bills.
This enthusiasm tends not to be shared by older employees however, many of whom prefer their own desk, as well as an enclosed space for telephone calls and meetings – the latter purely for confidentiality reasons. But put them together in the right environment and we would like to think the generations could learn from each other.
Are you planning an office redesign? Then why not discover more office design advice, strategies and help from the team here at Opus4.com?