The Evolving Landscape of Modern Office Design

From the humble open-plan offices of the not-so-distant past to today’s innovative office designs which feature employee-focused leisure areas, intended to boost the wellbeing and productivity of employees, the design of a typical workplace has undeniably changed over time. And as we move towards open-plan workspaces that are heavily focused on employee engagement and innovation, it’s time for businesses across the globe to take a closer look at how they could adapt to the latest trends in office design.

The Google Garage and Apple Spaceship make these international corporations some of the best-known pioneers of this design style, and today, we’ll be putting the key elements from offices past and present under the microscope. We want to lift the lid on where office design is heading and explain how businesses can incorporate new-age ideas into their own working spaces.

Applying an eco-friendly design

The acknowledgement of sick building syndrome (SBS) in the past 50 years has meant that, for business owners and managers across the globe, employing new techniques that are designed to improve the health and happiness of staff members is more essential than ever. And from reducing feelings of stress to improving the quality of air, shaking up your office design could improve the chances of long-term success for your company.

With research showing that indoor plants could enhance productivity levels in the workplace, integrating eco-friendly and natural design features is becoming a popular design concept. Exposure to natural light throughout the working day is thought to have a positive impact on sleep quality too – which is why office designers and businesses are making a conscious effort to brighten up workspaces with warmer and more inviting colour schemes. So, whether you inject some colour with strategically-placed wall art or open up your floor plan by exposing your natural hardwood flooring, creating a vibrant and environmentally-friendly office could mean that you evoke feelings of creativity and efficiency in employees.

Building designated break-out areas

With a pressing workload and tight deadlines, members of staff can find it all too easy to work through their breaks – which can often mean employees inadvertently compromise their own wellbeing. Traditionally, dated staff rooms with limited facilities mean team members are more likely to take a break at their desk too. With the temptation to check emails or finish off that report, employees can lose out on gaining some genuine downtime.

Taking some well-earned time out from work can mean that employees return to their workspace feeling significantly more refreshed, motivated and inspired with new ideas – which is why the use of break-out spaces is proving to be so effective in maximising productivity in offices. Upgrading staff rooms with colourful artwork will transform the space into somewhere that your employees actually want to spend their time – and by investing in interactive team-building equipment, you could boost staff morale and encourage cross-team collaborations.

Closing the doors on open-plan

Cost may be the primary reason to say goodbye to individual offices and cubicles, but not everyone is convinced that open-plan environments are the way to go. While an open-plan format may inspire the sharing of ideas and breed an increasingly positive company culture, research shows that the higher level of distractions and severe lack of privacy could end up harming the productivity of your team by 15%.

And with the welfare of employees taking a priority in any business that’s destined for success, adapting workspaces to suit the needs and desires of your staff is a must. Offering a variety of workstation types – such as private meeting rooms, sofa spaces with lap desks and the traditional computer desk format – means that your team will be able to focus away from the busy main office space and concentrate on completing the task at hand.

Encouraging co-working and collaboration

The benefits of team collaboration will be something that all businesses are familiar with, but it’s co-working environments that have risen to prominence in recent years. Blurring the boundaries between different industries, co-working office spaces enable freelancers, start-ups and self-employed workers alike to share ideas, equipment and knowledge. With savings to be made on both office overheads and resources, this form of collaborative working could prove invaluable for the future of business.

Whether you’re a freelancer who’s hoping to collaborate with others or a start-up company that’s looking to grow in the most efficient way, building your business from an incubator or accelerator space could mean that you gain increased access to some of the most effective and unique ideas – compared to what you would expect to see in a traditional office format. When choosing your workplace environment, remember that incubator environments are intended to build on innovative ideas to create a business model, whereas accelerators are designed to accelerate the growth of a company which already exists – so choose wisely and watch your SME grow from strength to strength.

The shift in focus towards the satisfaction and wellbeing of staff has motivated a dramatic development in office layouts in recent decades – and with research showing that these employee-centred designs are already improving productivity and staff retention levels, there’s every reason for businesses to continue adapting their working environments in their quest for success.