I hesitate to use the word “trend” here as the word itself insinuates a fad or a passing phase. Employment, work and jobs are evolving at a higher rate than at any other time in history.
Employee expectations, working in a mobile economy, the rise and rise of freelancers, contractors and project based roles as well as a markedly increased focus on our overall health and wellbeing all mean that Office Design and Fitout has to evolve at the same rate.
Office Design is a critical element to your business, both its success and the attraction, satisfaction and retention of talent.
The Office is where you and your (full-time) staff spend roughly 25% of their life. 25%!
An office is no longer seen as simply a place where people work simply because they have to.
Modern office design must now create a working environment where people choose to work and studies have shown that excellence in office fitout is a key factor in attracting and retaining employees to the organisation as well as maintaining optimal work and focus levels of your staff.
There are 5 key elements in the evolution of office design and fitout:
- Engagement and collaboration
The findings from an Empirica study commissioned in 2014 showed that investment in workplace design and organisational culture can actually be a more cost effective strategy for talent attraction than higher salaries. It also showed a significant correlation on the extent to which employees connect and identify with their colleagues and the whole organisation.
Humans are social, that is a fact. Most humans require socialisation to exist. When an employee sets foot into the office, they don’t simply “turn off” their social genetics, it therefore stands to reason that the workplace should support collaboration and socialisation to enable the workforce to run at optimum levels.
Whether you choose an open plan or an office module style workspace, functional office design will incorporate areas that promote communication and engagement amongst the workforce. Break out areas, hospitable kitchen and eating areas, meditation rooms and games areas are all examples.
- Mobility & Connectivity
Good office design must incorporate the audio-visuals and data connectivity required by your workforce. The devil in the case of mobility and data is definitely in the design.
Strategic and abundant placement of power and data outlets, staff accessibility to technology to allow them to save time within the course of their role as well as adaptability of technology to provide equal opportunity for staff members who may be hearing or sight impaired.
Other tech considerations in Office design are;
- Smart technology, the use of apps to book rooms and meeting areas
- installation of the highest data speed technology
- integration of office machines to a centralised data network
- placement of central requirements such as printers and copiers
ABS statistics show that Australian workers take 8-9 days of sick leave per year. Ok, so that doesn’t sound too bad.
Let’s extrapolate with a 2015/16 Department of Human Services study that showed that 88Million days are lost each year to sick leave costing Australian employers a staggering $33Billion in expenses and lost productivity.
That means that each sick day costs an employer on average $375.00 per day.
It’s little wonder then that Office fitout and design has a large focus on the health and wellbeing of the workforce.
Natural light and ventilation are utilised wherever possible to reduce the effects of poor air quality and harsh artificial lighting that plays havoc with our body’s natural circadian rhythms.
Green walls and internal garden areas are designed to improve air quality and create a natural calming effect.
Height adjustable work stations and the use of ergonomic chairs offer physical support and mobility within the workplace to reduce the amount of seated related ailments and stress.
Again, as office spaces are accommodating increasing numbers of contract, freelance and project based staff, as well as flexible working conditions including work from home days, the furniture used in office design must be adaptable.
Modular seating, private conversation / telephone pods, quiet areas, fully equipped hot desks and furniture that can be easily and readily changed or modified to suit the changing daily requirements of the work space are a must in the evolution of office design and fitout.
Coming full circle on our article and creating a comfortable office space and environment for your workforce is essential.
During an average work week, a workforce will spend more time in the office than they will spend (awake) in their home.
Creature comforts such as prints, artwork, photographs as well as colourful cushions are a low-cost and effective measure to create a homely office space where your workforce genuinely enjoy their time.