Companies, regardless of industry or market sector, continuously strive for innovation. One of the models becoming increasingly popular within commercial office environments is the open, collaborative, and flexible work place. Many factors contribute to this trend, from advances in technology and multi-functional furniture to the growing percent of the workforce that is comprised of younger generations. These factors play a leading role in why organizations are providing more ‘we’ space rather than ‘me’ space.
UTILIZATION IN ADAPTIVE RE-USE BUILDINGS
The real estate market appears polluted with abandoned buildings waiting for demolition and primed for new construction. However, in recent years developers have invested their time and energy to evaluate these structures and develop plans to re-use availabl
e space while leaving a majority of the existing features intact. This approach holds true with office space as well. More and more companies are investing in these properties to provide opportunities for their employees to work in an environment that provides charm, history, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm. These adaptive re-use buildings also incorporate cutting-edge designs, sustainability, and in some cases, utility efficiency.
FLEXIBILITY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Today’s technology provides opportunities for workplace flexibility. Gone are the days of mainframe computers and accessories that took up an employee’s entire desk. Technology, specifically new laptops and tablets, provide the flexibility to plug and play, work from anywhere, and stay connected well after the five o’clock hour. Employers are also discovering that less and less IT space is required in new settings, with data stored within the ‘cloud.’ Advanced technology allows employees to collaborate faster and remain productive from anywhere within the building. Computer and tablet hardware make it possible to work freely anywhere without the need to remain plugged in at your desk.
MILLENNIAL INFLUENCE ON COLLABORATIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS
The millennial generation is contributing to the trend towards collaborative settings, and who can blame them when it’s all they’ve ever known? Millennials have been raised during, and contribute to, technological advancements. They may still be learning their way through a fast-paced work life, but with respect to technology, they have the resources needed to connect within a matter of seconds. These capabilities allow for productivity outside of the traditional hard-walled office environment and facilitate their desire to have immediate interaction with their peers throughout the day.
COLLABORATIVE OFFICE FURNITURE
Multi-functional furniture is a critical element of collaboration. Today’s furniture is mobile, adjustable, and customizable. Employees are choosing to stand at their desk rather than sit; they’re steering away from the standard office chair and choosing an exercise ball. Furniture is moving away from the typical wood veneer to brighter, more vibrant colors that create a better atmosphere and increase productivity. Conference room furniture, specifically the tables, incorporate power and IT capabilities for immediate connection. Modular furniture is becoming smaller and smaller, reducing the overall footprint of actual workspace and providing areas for peer-to-peer contact, support spaces, kitchens, gaming areas, etc.
COLLABORATIVE WORKSPACE DESIGN FEATURES
Design features in collaborative offices can include:
- Full service kitchens and café spaces
- Fitness centers
- Bike storage rooms
- Office day care facilities
- Study booths rather than traditional conference rooms
- Teleconferencing capabilities
- Exposed construction materials
- Glass partitions to promote transparency
The future looks promising for changing office environments as companies strive for collaboration, innovation, and creativity. Implementing the latest resources, capabilities, and gadgets will allow companies to ‘stay ahead of the curve’ for years to come by increasing flexibility and maximizing productivity.