Workplace Technology Assessment
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By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
Renowned physicist and scholar Sir Stephen Hawking famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Workplace space planning is all about adapting to change—specifically, how businesses can efficiently and creatively leverage real estate and technology.
The future of space planning is about prioritizing the needs of employees instead of forcing them to bend to the constraints of traditional office space designs. New space planning trends meet existing needs and accommodate anticipated changes. They create cost-effective, flexible, modern workplaces that support agile employees and embrace new technologies. It’s up to businesses to recognize and embrace these trends in 2020.
Path to digital space management
Workplace optimization has made integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) a necessity. IWMS platforms house and analyze once-siloed data to deliver insights crucial in shaping the workplace. With this information, facilities managers can make the most of every square foot and create spaces that drive productivity without sacrificing engagement.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the rise of coworking and hot desking. Technology makes it easy for people to choose their own workspace without compromising their availability to coworkers or up-ending workplace harmony. Moreover, the IWMS uses aggregated data and trends to help plan, implement, and analyze new desking opportunities.
Cloud-supported, results-based approaches to space planning are fostering innovative office space planning trends, including flexible seating, reserved conferencing, open-air offices, quiet workstations, and inventive office space design.
Flexible seating is a win-win for businesses. Employees get to pick a workspace that’s right for them, while managers have a system to maximize facility space utilization. Open seating works for everyone, from permanent full-time workers to outside contractors to part-time and remote employees. Businesses don’t overpay for unused space and employees are more productive by using different environments for different tasks.
From a space planning perspective, flexible seating is easy to deploy and revise, with key metrics easily tracked through IWMS software. Regular review of trends and adjustments to the flexible seating concept keep an agile business running smoothly.
Say goodbye to massive meeting rooms that frequently sit unused. Businesses are trading in big conference tables and stuffy 10-person rooms for more flexible, open-air environments. Modular and convertible spaces present new options for meetings. Semi-open configurations have already proven themselves to foster organic collaboration, which has come to make traditional offices all but obsolete.
To maintain structure, many businesses are turning to space booking software. Such systems allow employees to reserve a room and ensure occupants won’t face disruption during meetings.
Managers may initially resist losing their premium offices when faced with a benching or open-office design. But they’ll come around once they experience the benefits of being more accessible to staff. When managers aren’t behind closed doors, they can hear what’s going on around them. Staff is naturally more forthcoming and there’s less intimidation than being called into the boss’s office to talk with the door shut.
There’s a certain practicality to open-air offices in the modern age. Businesses forced to allocate space more efficiently have a hard time justifying executive suites or huge corner offices. Private offices are slowly disappearing, despite being a longstanding tradition.
Regardless of the greater office space design, workers benefit from occasional access to closed-off space. It affords them to focus on intensive tasks and the occasional personal calls. Quiet space offers a chance to decompress, regain composure, and work uninterrupted.
Creating quiet spaces within a larger workplace takes strategy. These areas should be away from the office epicenter. They should require some form of granted accessibility—a key code, a reservation, or even a simple “Occupied” sign. Make them distraction-free and customizable to a degree.
Inventive space design
Current space planning trends address workers’ preference for less traditional workplace design. The last thing new hires want to face is the prospect of 40-plus hours sitting in a cubicle looking at acoustic tiles, fluorescent lighting, and whitewashed walls. Talented workers want (and deserve) more, and they’re motivated by a workplace that engages them.
There’s nothing to lose and much to gain by making aesthetic changes to a drab office. As you consider trends in space planning, consider space design that makes employees feel content with their surroundings.
Build the foundation for a better workplace
These space planning predictions are more than passing fads or imaginative trends. An office that accommodates emerging concepts and marries them to new technologies is one poised to succeed. Consider these trends in 2020—they could define your office for the next decade of work to come.
Keep reading: Collaborative Workspace Trends and How We Work Together.