Office design for the evolving business
Is there any business that has not evolved during the last few years? Most businesses have been affected by the changing nature of work, driven by technology, generational change and more flexible working models. The evolution of work will continue and the best course of action is to ensure your business is ready for the future, whatever that might bring.
At Evoke Projects, we loved Anetta Pizag’s chapter on evolving workplaces and office design in her book, Create a Thriving Workspace. There was so much good material to consider that we cannot cover it all in this article, but we have highlighted some ideas for your next office fit-out or refurbishment.
1. Design your office so that it’s easy to change
If you design your office so that it’s easy to change, it can adapt to different business process and headcount requirements. Even a newly-designed workplace that has undertaken a new office fit-out or refurbishment should be adaptable for change. Arguably, it should be especially adaptable to change because the office designers have lived through a time of massive workplace change and know that business needs will continue to evolve.
We liked Pizag’s reference to ‘chameleon spaces’ – flexible, multifunctional office spaces that can be changed according to need. The quicker the office design can be modified, the more likely the room will be well-utilised. Build a chameleon space into your office refurbishment plans and reap the rewards!
Pizag recommends furniture that is easy to move and easy to store, mobile partitions, adjustable or modular furniture and multi-functional building elements that can be used in several different ways. For example, walls that can be either partitions or whiteboards or display boards. Another idea is to combine glass partitions with curtains or blinds so you can make a wall see-through or not.
During your next office refurbishment or fit-out, discuss adaptable options with your office designer.
2. Refine the office design along the way
Pizag cautions against delivering a completed office fit-out or refurbishment and expecting it to be perfect for an evolving business. She advises that a new office design should be considered as a process. Involve staff in the decision making and test out design concepts to ensure they facilitate and empower staff to work to their best ability.
Of course, this is possibly easier said than done in a business that needs to budget, plan and function around the office refurbishment and fit-out process. Pizag suggests testing a particular office design concept such as hot-desking to get feedback from staff. Alternatively, upgrade only part of the space or build a prototype model of the office fit-out and role play the work processes.
At Evoke Projects, we often work with clients who want to undertake a new office fit-out or refurbishment project in stages. This is a perfect way to test and refine office design concepts and their application to your business.
3. Cater for flexible and remote working
Twenty years ago, who would have thought something called a cloud, a smartphone and a tablet would revolutionise the way we work today? What will the next twenty years bring?
While we cannot predict the future, we can reasonably assume that technology will continue to evolve, enhancing the way we communicate with our work colleagues and facilitating flexible work methods. In the past, people working from home or in a café would not be considered productive workers. Now, Pizag cites research by the Telework Research Network that shows workers’ productivity increases by 27% on days when they are working remotely.
So what does this mean for office design? While fewer workstations will be required, it is important to support mobile workers with collaboration spaces and rooms for training or events that bring people together. Face to face interaction is still important for human beings on a social level, even when technology might make it unnecessary. Our inherent need for socialisation is something that is unlikely to evolve!
Home workers might also need advice on their home office fit-out or refurbishment from both a health and safety perspective and a practical viewpoint.
For more office design tips from Anetta Pizag, you can order her book online. To discuss your next office design, fit-out or office refurbishment, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.