Every year, Ugoburo’s office furnishings experts identify emerging trends in office design and ergonomics trends. They then draw inspiration from these initial investigations to create innovative offices spaces throughout the year, and well into the future.
Our colleague Sylvie recently returned from NEOCON in Chicago, North America’s leading annual office furniture manufacturers’ exhibition. Below, she shares a few inspirational ideas for business leaders who are thinking of revamping their office layout.
1. Create collaborative spaces for everyone
Modern companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of collaborative spaces. These dynamic and technologically well-equipped areas address numerous business needs, not the least of which is the ability to provide a space suited to both group and individual work.
Collaborative work is known to foster creativity, productivity, learning, and a strong corporate culture. Employees gather in this space to identify solutions to everyday issues as well as generate and develop new ideas; afterwards, they can step away from the group and work alone within this same space. As a result, employees can implement the ideas developed by the group, or work on more specialized and demanding tasks that require additional thought and focus.
The NEOCON exhibitors displayed fantastic inventiveness by presenting a broad range of inspiring solutions. The exceptional work by Quebec manufacturer Lacasse, with its new Stad collection, is especially noteworthy in this category.
2. Focus on open, light-filled work spaces
At long last, the era of office suites composed exclusively of windowless cubicles separated by high soundproof partitions has ended. Today’s leaders understand the inherent business value of interactions between staff members. Fluid, open communication is essential and has been intrinsically linked with enhanced employee performance, innovation, and wellness.
Airy, bright work spaces are engaging and ergonomic, and respect the positive effects of natural light on humans. Numerous layout options can be considered when building such work spaces; these include moveable electric tables that allow employees to move around quickly and meet with their colleagues. Another idea is a cabled meeting table (with electrical outlets, USB and HDMI cabling, etc.) set in the centre of the work space to facilitate impromptu project meetings as required. The flow of ideas becomes organic, and everyday employee engagement is fostered. In addition, the use of moveable glass partitions to close off certain areas provides natural light for all employees, regardless of organizational status.
3. Consider creating multifunctional, shared work spaces
When designing open work spaces, it’s increasingly important to include multifunctional zones, areas where mobile employees can work on their smart phones, tablets, or portable computers for short periods of time.
These spaces, which are not assigned to any single employee, also offer employers a buffer zone at times when there are more staffers on hand than available work stations. They can also be shared with the company’s suppliers, freelancers, or other external collaborators.
Also called “touchdown stations”, this multifunctional layout presents a more modern look, especially if it includes designer furniture such as a fully-cabled, height-adjustable electric table.
4. Set up private, comfortable mini-lounges/meeting rooms
Small, private lounge/meeting rooms have become very popular with employees. When tastefully designed and strategically located, these spaces - with their comfortable sofas and armchairs – are ideal for more casual work.
They are enjoyed and heavily used primarily for creative work (particularly for short meetings or impromptu brainstorming sessions) as well as for coffee breaks, social events, and downtime between breaks or during lunch.
5. Bear in mind that there is no “one size fits all” solution
An open, collaborative office space is well-suited to a wide variety of work styles, particularly in companies where the business model is driven by employee creativity and interactions.
However, it’s important to remember that some types of work require little or no such interactions, and consequently, no employee movement. For example, a call centre is organized along more traditional lines, and equipped with cubicles and comfortable, ergonomic chairs. It’s equally important to consider the type of tasks these employees must complete, to ensure work spaces are optimally laid out to address their specific needs.