March 2017 archive

4 Office Design Trends to Take Notice of in 2017

Modern Office Design Trends

 

Implementing New Innovations for Future Growth

 

With the new year well underway and modern office designs taking shape, it’s about time we looked at the innovations which are leading the way. In the past, the office usually featured a static design which remained unchanged for years on end. Nowadays, the design of the office is significantly more important. While it can be a key factor in boosting productivity and stimulating creativity, it also holds several other benefits for businesses. For example, with a growing millennial workforce, a greater priority is placed upon where they work, and creating an enjoyable working environment is now important for attracting and retaining younger generations.

This point, combined with the fact that many offices are now used to host meetings and presentations has led to the office becoming an extension of the company’s brand. In addition to this, the design of the office is a key component when increasing productivity. Typically, this is achieved through creating comfortable working environments which are tailored to the strengths of its employees. As such, office design trends are evolving, far faster than they were 10 years ago. Often, these are tailored around the open office design, with the end goal focused on creating a balance between collaboration and privacy.

 

Modern Office Design Trends

Modern Office Design Trends

 

How Office Design Trends Are Catering to the Millennial Generation

 

By millennial, we are talking about employees who we born after the year 1990. What distinguishes these from the rest is the fact that they were brought around modern, digital technology. For example, the mobile phone, personal computers and games consoles were freely available. As well as this, their upbringing co-aligned with an increasingly liberal education system. The result is a different set of morals and beliefs than what business owners are used to. Rather than just focusing on money, millennials are more likely to set their sights on a career which is also fulfilling.

This is where office design becomes important. By fulfilling, we’re not necessarily talking just about doing humanitarian work. In fact, much of the career advice given to millennials over the past 20 years, has been to find a job you enjoy. This means to discover a career they are happy doing every day, working in a place which is comfortable and being surrounded by like-minded individuals. Because of concerns such as these, there has been greater emphasis placed upon building a community through office design.

This idea revolves around the open plan office. Some of the key office design trends over the past decade are built around finding a balance between collaboration and privacy in such an open environment. Rather than just reverting to the cubicle design of old, instead, designers are turning towards flexibility. Because of wireless technology, there is no need for employees to become attached to a single desk. Instead, modern offices are creating spaces for collaboration to take place and others which provide complete privacy from the surrounding office.

 

Office Design Trends in 2017 are Focused on Utilising Technology for Success

 

Many of the office design trends which we are seeing this year are built around this idea of flexibility. While they can certainly cater to the newer generations, it is also important to consider older ones who will have become accustomed to existing designs. In order to make the most of the space available, permanent, private offices are a thing of the past. Therefore, it is important for modern office designs to create effective private environments which are suitable for all generations. Simply telling people to pop a pair of headphones in is not a long-term solution.

 

An increasingly popular option is to create versatile, acoustic booths. These are semi-permanent and incorporate advanced acoustic technology akin to what you may find in a music studio. This helps to filter out much of the ambient background noise while creating a private space which fits in with the open design. These can then be used by individuals, for group work as well as for meetings. The result is an office where employees can be flexible and work in environments which are suitable for their work.

 

Creating an Office Which is Future-Proof

 

As we alluded to at the beginning, the speed in which offices are changing is increasing every year. While they are not complete overhauls, it is necessary for the office to quickly adapt to the needs of the business. If the number of employees continues to grow, then the office must follow suit. Fortunately, an open office is far more effective at this than any other design previously. Furniture, partition screens and even acoustic pods are relatively easy to re-arrange. Then it is simply a case of making the room for additional working space.

Furthermore, with interchangeable components such as these, it is simple and more cost-effective to adapt the design over time. Furniture such as desks and partition screens will not need to be changed every year. Therefore, modern office design trends are based upon a system where components can be added and removed wherever necessary.

On the topic of furniture, adjustable desks are something we all should be looking at. As modern office design trends look towards the future, this also concerns the future of employees. Many studies have begun to reveal the damaging effects of working in an office for 8 hours or more a day. There is a need to create environments which allow people to be as active as possible. While the flexible working areas will help, it is components such as an adjustable desk which get people moving and help to safeguard against some future health issues.

 

Integrating Branding into Office Design

 

The final factor we are going to cover involves the aesthetic of the modern office. With the examples set by Silicon Valley, the recent trend has been to incorporate white spaces with colourful and vibrant colours. While this has a number of benefits, such as being able to boost people’s mood, it fails to really make the space unique.

This is one of the reasons why this year, we are increasingly seeing company branding being incorporated into colour schemes and design plans. As mentioned earlier, the office is increasingly becoming part of the marketing and promotion of an organisation. Use of bright colours can be great for a creative business as it promotes that part of their identity. However, if you are in the business of finance, then glowing yellows and dazzling greens hardly create this image of professionalism and consistency.

 

Modern Office Design Trends

Modern Office Design Trends

 

Rap Industries are expert manufacturers of office partitions, acoustic pods and room dividers. They have designed components for organisations both large and small for over 40 years. If you wish to find out more about the services which they offer, then please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

How Should I Design My Office?

Modern Office - Photo: Bakoko

The Basics of Office Design

 

So, you’ve decided your office needs a re-design to bring it up to scratch. Well, the blueprint for what we consider to be a ‘standard office design’ has evolved substantially over the past 10 years, in part due to studies such as this. Aside from installing dedicated gyms, a swimming pool and even a spa if you fancy, this means we are having to innovate to make the office more ‘healthy’. It’s worth noting at this point that a successful office design does not consider just physical issues, but also mental. This means looking past the fancy furniture & stylish meeting spaces. Instead, it’s important to consider the little things which we will be getting onto later.

With the layout of your own office in mind, there are a few factors to keep close throughout the design process. Firstly, your staff. Everyone has their own frustrations with the office, whether it’s a lack of natural sunlight, lack of privacy or just a noisy co-worker. This feedback should be factored in at the start, as the design should be tailored to help make them happy. If the workforce is happy, then theoretically, they should be more productive and even more creative. Of course, quick disclaimer, even the perfect office design will not fix every problem within a business.

 

Modern Office - Photo: Bakoko

Modern Office – Photo: Bakoko

 

Working with the Existing Design of Your Office

 

Still with me? Good, now let’s start with the framework you have available. Your office; is it big or small? Multiple rooms or just one large ones? Where are the windows located? The latter is very important. Being close to a window or just being exposed to natural light is great for the mood. If you’re sat in a box in the corner of the room, things are going to get dull, fast. If you’re not graced with glass windows wrapping around the room like a New York skyscraper, then don’t worry. Knock down any interior walls which are preventing it seeping into separate corners of the office. If you desire some kind of structure, then Perspex/glass partition screens are the ideal solution.

Now, back to the first questions that were posed; what space is available? This is important as multiple rooms can provide more flexibility. One of the key issues with office work is that we often become trapped at a desk, for 8 hours a day, staring at a screen. This encourages fatigue and is one of the reasons why we start having issues with bad backs. Therefore, consider creating two separate areas; one for collaborative work, where desks are kept in close proximity and another for quiet work where distractions are kept to a minimum.

With this, your staff can move freely (laptops are a key consideration in a design like this) and work in an area which suits the work they are doing as well as the mindset they are in. Should there be space the spare, then an acoustic pod should be a consideration. These can be effective when used as a meeting room or group room.

 

Creating Balance Within an Office

 

I’ll expand on this idea of creating separate working areas. This is something which you are likely to pick up on by talking to staff. Some of them will love working side-by-side, bouncing ideas off each other and developing plans. Then there are others, often less vocal, who would rather just stick a pair of headphones on and crack on with the work at hand. Your design should be tailored to the people that work there. If nobody is bothered, then you can get away with keeping desks close together. But if your team likes their personal space and often conduct individual work, then this has to be factored into the layout.

 

Invest in Furniture for Long Term Gain

 

Furniture is always the most expensive part of any re-design. Because of this, many companies will choose to shy away from premium products to keep the overall cost down. Appropriately designed seating, partition screens, desks and peripherals are vitally important. This is because they create comfort. Even if employees are sat at a desk for a couple of hours at a time, the strain caused as a result of cheap furniture will create long term problems which could end up costing more than an ergonomic chair. Their modern design is not there to convince you to part with more of your budget. It’s there to make it easier to work and for longer – ideal when you are looking to get the most from your staff.

 

The Finishing Touches…

 

By now, you should have a strong idea of how the office is going to be laid out. Once that is set in stone, you can start to think about the interesting part – the decorating. Most modern offices have ditched those monotone colour schemes and dull shades. The reasoning is that people are hardly motivated to work in an environment which makes them feel miserable. Surprisingly, people actually like to work in places which are interesting. Therefore, you should be considering using bright colours where possible. There is nothing wrong with whitewashed walls as long as they are coupled with vibrant partitions and eye-catching furniture.

As a parting point, many indoor design experts would recommend infusing your branding into the design where possible. Whether this is a colour scheme or specific design, keep it consistent. The office should become part of a company’s identity, rather than just the place where people work. This point is crucial, especially if you are hosting guests and visitors as it helps to build your rapport with them.

Hopefully, this little post should provide the basis for you to begin designing your own office. We’ve barely touched upon elements such as the acoustics, which are an important consideration. Re-designing the office often only takes place every 5-10 years, so do your research and make sure the investment helps your business and your brand long term.

 

Delta Office Screens

Delta Office Screens

 

Rap Industries have been established for over 40 years. They design and manufacture office screens and partitions bespoke to create effective and attractive working environments. You can find out more about the services they provide by calling 01733 394941 or by sending an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

How to Solve the Inherent Flaws of Open Office Design

Office Design - Photo: K2 Space

Adapting Open-Plan Designs for Success

The now infamous Google offices have generated substantial debate over the years between office design experts. The futuristic design, characterised by ping-pong tables, restaurants within a few hundred yards and THAT twisting slide, create this utopian image of office design from the outside. Visitors have often gawked at the freedom afforded to employees and envisioned how such a design could be implemented within their business. A post from Lindsey Kaufman has re-surfaced in the past month which her frustrations with open office design. Back then it was an upward trend, but now it has become the norm.

Stating that Google ‘got it wrong’ I would consider being an exaggeration. However, the blueprint they created has been haphazardly applied other workspaces which are often significantly smaller. The Google offices are admittedly open, but what makes these offices unique is their flexibility. Having 31.79km2 at the Googleplex ensures there is abundant space for, quiet zones, gyms, cafés and the rest. Even relatively large businesses who take up multiple floors in tower blocks cannot hope to rival the flexibility that the Google model provides. As Lindsey found out, the result was a mess – neglecting factors which ultimately harm employee productivity and health.

Modern Office Design - Photo Courtesy of: K2 Space

Modern Office Design – Photo Courtesy of: K2 Space

The Problem with Proximity and Personal Space

Before we had the open-plan office, white collar workers endured the cubicle design often for the entirety of their working lives. When this was created, it promised to give employees privacy whilst enabling employers to cram them in like a well-played game of Tetris. Surprising really, that it took half a century to modernise such a flawed design. A simple combination of flimsy partition screens which did very little in the way of reducing audible or visual distractions. Interruptions caused by colleagues chatting, phones ringing and people passing through not only harms productivity but it triggers frustration, stress and the myriad of health issues that can result from the two.

The open office designs which we see created in the Google-style simply remove the screens and fail to address any of the issues which were harmful in the first place. For example, it’s rare for most businesses who design their own office to consider the acoustics of the area. The soundwaves reverberating from colleagues and their devices is incredibly unpredictable. This leads to persistent interruptions which are incredibly harmful to productivity. Hard surfaces such as hardwood floors and painted walls can look sublime, but they reverberate sound around the room causing it to echo. Instead; carpets, acoustic wall panels and acoustic screens should be considered to help keep ambient background noise to a minimum.

Transforming an Open Office Design into a Flexible Design

If there are multiple rooms available, then a flexible workspace is far more achievable. With all the detrimental issues associated with sitting at a desk for multiple hours a day, there has never been a better time to create an office which provides employees with freedom. Laptop computers are the key tool here (assuming they are required). Their versatility means that sitting at a desk all day is a thing of the past. Deadline approaching and you need space to focus? Take a seat in a designated quiet zone. Looking to collaborate while working through your tasks? Head over to one of the communal areas. Holding a meeting to discuss ideas as a group? There are dedicated spaces for that.

This freedom of movement is successful in several ways, but critically it appeals to a diverse workforce. We may hold ‘collaboration and innovation’ as our mantra, but throwing people together is not a guaranteed way to succeed. While some may excel in this style of an environment, others will feel overwhelmed. This risks alienating them further and creating a new batch of problems. Office design must consider the concept of introverted and extroverted workers, who are unique in their own rights and excel in contrastingly different environments. What you don’t see in the glamorous videos of the modern office is those tucked away in the corner, happily working away without the hustle and bustle of the open office.

Tailoring the Google Blueprint for Personal Use

When considering office design, it’s important to remember that most of the major corporations will have contracted expert interior designers to create a tailored office design. Their blueprints will take everything into consideration; aesthetic, acoustics, practicality and logistics. So, if you are looking at going down the same route, then I’m surprised you have made it so far down the article. Instead, where we see many shortcomings is when smaller businesses go it alone. They often adopt a lot of the stylistic choices on available, while neglecting many of the smaller factors which can make these areas so effective.

To begin with, the most important factor to consider is the opinion of those who already work there. What environments do they feel comfortable working in? What works about your current office design and what does not? What would they like to see? People can be resilient to change, so creating a design which is going to maintain harmony after the refurbishment is extremely important. Then you can begin to tailor the design based on your requirements. Which layout will work best? Is it possible to create different working areas with different conditions?

Before jumping ahead to pick out fabrics and colours, there is still the all-important factor of acoustics to finalise. If you have a large, busy office, then the noise is likely to be a concern. In situations like these, we would recommend using soft fabrics throughout to absorb some of those soundwaves. To protect yourself against any future issues then looks towards acoustic screens and acoustic wall panels to help control the ambient background noise.

The Finishing Touches

Then, and only then is it time for the fun stuff. Office design is far more meticulous than meets the eye, and sloppy designs will only hamper productivity. A complete re-design is often only done every five years or every decade or so. Therefore, investing the time into getting it right will stand you in good stead further down the line. Many businesses appear to have gone gung-ho in the open office craze in recent years, which has led to feelings similar to those expressed by Lindsey Kaufman. While that opinion is shared by many, it does not have to be the case when working in an open office. Careful consideration for the office design can make a substantial difference to the productivity and wellbeing of those working within them.

Acoustic Screens - Office Design

Acoustic Screens – Office Design

Go Displays are expert manufacturers of office partitions and acoustic pods. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we have extensive insight into how to create an effective office design. For further information on the services we provide, please call 01733 232000 or send an e-mail outlining your enquiry to sales@go-displays.co.uk.