Much like the chicken or the egg, we may never know which comes first, but there are definitely a few trends in office design that are interdependent on the people, the place, and the process.
The social network
LinkedIn was founded in 2003, but let’s not forget that the original professional “social network” was the office water cooler. As the business world becomes more anonymous, workplace interactions become more faceless. However, it is in businesses’ best interest that their workers collaborate and work together face-to-face. According to ClearCompany:
97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project
86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures
About 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”
As a result, one of the most popular office design trends revolves around open space, shared space, informal settings, and collaborative environments. Companies are encouraging employees to sit together, work together, and team up.
Here are a couple real-life examples of this trend:
Getting ahead in virtually any business is a function of creativity, focus, and making it happen. Employers are encouraging their employees to think outside the box, innovate, and revolutionize. To encourage and retain the necessary creativity, companies are providing flexible, open, and collaborative workspaces. Cisco’s “connected workplace,” features bright colors, moveable sit-stand work stations, broad views to the outside, an open, free-flowing environment — and the connected technology to enable the exchange of ideas with colleagues around the world.
In creating the Collaborative Connected Workplace Environment, Cisco saved on costs and improved employee morale. “Common feedback is that most employees like the choice of work environments, cutting-edge technologies, light, openness, and the opportunity for inter-organizational collaboration,” says Christine Ross, manager in the Workplace Effectiveness Team for Cisco Workplace Resources (WPR)
Some of the most creative companies in the world inspire creativity from their employees with their creative office designs (or is it the creative employees who inspire the creative companies to create the spaces?).
Google Tel Aviv:
Companies are not only investing in unique designs, but looking for designs and adjustable furniture that contribute to the wellness of their employees.
Priority Health, the health insurance arm of Spectrum Health, offers yoga and other fitness classes at lunch, pays the entry fees for employees to enter triathlons and other races, and holds walking meetings.
In the next two years, all of its 1,200 employees will have sit-stand desks.
The latest survey on wellness programs from Fidelity Investments and NBGH reveals employers spent an average of $693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015.
The Washington Post reports that businesses are no longer viewing wellness as something that just lowers healthcare costs. Jeff Levin-Scherz, a professor at Harvard Medical School says, “people are thinking about wellness programs more as a way to create an environment and culture that is more health conscious. According to Alan McGinty, Senior Director, Global Workplace Solutions Group, it’s “ a way to retain and drive employee attraction, retention, productivity and a perpetual collision of creativity,”
DC’s Nuclear Energy Institute offers on-site salsa and belly-dancing classes, Weight Watchers and healthy cooking classes, and even occasional acupuncture seminars.
CBRE Group, a global leader in commercial real estate services, built their new global headquarters in Los Angeles with standards that offer an office environment that optimizes the health and well-being of its employees and sets a new standard for healthy office spaces. Their building includes smart lighting, air filtration, and biophilics, as well as ergonomic furniture and accessories that offer comfort and posture support for people with varying physical backgrounds.
Companies like Avis Rent a Car, CitiCorp, Humana Hospitals, Walt Disney World, and municipalities like City of Commerce City and Boulder County of Colorado, all offer their employees ergonomic solutions, which include adjustable chairs, ergonomic task lighting, comfortable computer accessories, sit stand desk units, and other items to benefit the health of their workers.
Where is everybody?
Of course, a major trend in the workplace is that people seem to work less from the office. With the technological advancements to enable easy and effective telecommuting, more workers are working from home, coffee shops, co-working spaces, and other places where they are more effective and save the time and energy of commuting.
This trend contributes to office designs that are flexible, allowing employees to come to the office and plug their laptops in at any open workstation. It is also encouraging companies to invest in offices that are inviting and effective. An effective office is one that has furniture that’s easily adjustable for people of varying heights and physical needs and provides a culture that encourages social interaction. Many Fortune 500 companies are incorporating this philosophy because it works – simple as that. Adjustable and trendy work environments, with a focus on health and well-being, promote collaboration. With the office being replaced by the virtual, companies will want to go out of their way to create a space that workers will want to frequent.
Written by Karen Burke: