The majestic banks built of marble and stone in the early twentieth century, with their soaring ceilings and grand columns, were saying something with their design. They were talking about power and solidity and wealth. But who were they talking to? Most office design up until this century was built for the customer- to impress, to speak about the company’s status or power.
One of the most significant changes in modern office and workspace design comes from an understanding that employee engagement drives business success. Before customers, a business needs engaged employees. Modern workplace design is less about impressing the customers and more about providing a healthy, enjoyable, and productive workspace for employees. With engaged employees, the customers will come.
With this new understanding of workplaces as being for the workforce, consider some new design trends for 2019 that directly impact employee health and wellness.
Alternatives to Offices
Traditional office structures were built on a similar grid to the chain of command. Modern workplaces are looking at alternates to offices, such as zones. Zones can have different arrangements of furniture, walls, and electronics to maximize the potential of the space. Zones can be detailed as collaboration, quiet, relaxation and sleep, and contain anything from open or closed meeting spaces to individual cubicles that are unassigned. Tables at a height for standing, with options for electronics, can be very effective small meeting spaces.
A focus on zones can also include private spaces, where conversations and consultations with a need for privacy can be held. Unassigned private office spaces of this type should be built with soundproofing and solid walls. Meditation and quiet breaks can be very effective methods of clearing competing thoughts and bringing problems into focus.
Promoting Employee Health
With a new focus on healthy lifestyles as both an economic necessity and an issue that impacts productivity, many businesses are building infrastructure into their workspace design to support healthy lifestyles. These can include gardens and walking paths, supports for commuting using micro-mobility devices or walking, cafeteria and food choices that focus on health, and can include rooftop gardens and interior hydroponic gardens for healthy local produce.
The focus on natural light, fresh air, and healthy food is also found to benefit mood and other measures of employee engagement. Many in the workplace find that access to natural light through windows, views of gardens, trees, or other greenery such as living walls can bring the mood and health benefits of the outdoors into the workspace.
Many workplaces are making capital improvements that directly impact employee health and wellness. Adding a workout space, with showers and lockers, or a mini-greenhouse for fresh produce for the cafeteria are examples of some of the new capital or infrastructure developments. If this type of capital development is off the table, a benefit such as employee membership at a local YMCA, in-house yoga or meditation or something similar may be popular.
We would love to work with you on updating your office space. Get in touch!