We believe that the office is constantly changing, with the traditional 9-5 set up long since consigned to history. So what does this mean for design?
Historically, culture shapes space and not the other way round. The technological revolution has sparked the transformation of formal office culture. The new digital office combines elements of domestic, retail and commercial architecture which have resulted in workplaces that reflect an emphasis on creativity and collaboration. Working hours have also changed, the traditional 9-5 structure has been replaced by the demands of always on time connectivity. To compensate for this change, offices have started to mirror designs of homes dorm rooms bars and even amusement arcades!
“The design process has had to explore how companies want to work rather than just aesthetics and form”
Rows of private offices have been replaced with open plan layouts that aim to reduce costs and boosts employee relations. Offices are now seeing a large proportion of space dedicated to socialising and encouraging workers to move away from their desks. Agile working is becoming one of the most favourable ways of working due to the positive impact businesses are seeing on its employees. Elements borrowed from the hospitality industry are now being seen as valuable resources in offices. Pockets of informal seating, coffee bars and telephone nooks allow employees to move away from their desks to carry out a task in a specifically tailored environment. Design firm Genslers UK Work Place Survey found that more than 8 million UK employees now work in open plan environments but rigid layouts forced almost 70 percent to sit at the same desk with the same co-workers each day. These workers scored the lowest in terms of innovation. With an average employee spending the majority of their waking hours in an office, it makes sense for there to be more of an overlap between work, socialising and home environments. Employees across sectors and generations are now seeking a stimulating experience from the office, not just a place to work.
With work spaces that offer collaborative informal and social spaces being the ones where employees report the highest sense of pride, enjoyment and productivity, would you consider the transition into ‘the modern office’?