Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest post- Workplace Design Trends!

This article is provided by Tara Simmons.

Designing workplaces today is much more interesting than it has been for decades. At Custer, the design team works the latest trends into customer solutions - which often inspire new, thought provoking applications for their spaces. 

We begin by examining the customer’s use of their square footage. Older workplaces frequently have larger individual workstations/offices and few team spaces. Reducing individual square footage and reallocating all or some of that to shared spaces is very common in today’s workplace. These shared spaces can include a variety of individual areas for focus work, very open collaborative spaces, or any combination thereof. Designing a wide range of individual to group settings frees employees to move around the office and work in the areas that will best support the projects they are working on at that time.

Encouraging employees to collaborate is a stated goal of many of our customers, and a properly designed environment can help them achieve this. Collaborative spaces include a variety of seating types, from lounge to stand-up height - which allows a change in posture throughout the day, minimizing stress on the body. Incorporating technology into these collaborative areas is important in making the workplace successful. Outdated offices often lack technology, which can make collaborating difficult and inefficient.

Employees respond positively to inviting environments.  Natural light and views play a big part in developing a more enjoyable working environment which is why glass walls are frequently incorporated into the workplace. Worker satisfaction is very important to us at Custer. 

Individual workspaces have become more compact partly because technology has drastically changed and does not require larger work surfaces. Technology has also allowed workers to become more mobile and less tethered to a specific workstation. Unassigned benching stations are becoming more common for mobile workers and really assist in lowering square footage requirements for workspaces. They can be made available on a first come first service basis or placed on a reservable system depending on the customer’s needs. Those workstations that still incorporate panels or walls tend to have them lowered as it allows for natural light to enter the space and encourages improved communication among employees.

When our customers plan to make large changes in their work environment, we encourage them to have plenty of employee involvement. The more input employees have, the more buy-in they will have for the new workspace. Communication is a key factor to a project’s success. Once implemented, we encourage our customers to orient employees to their new space. Communicating the intent of a new space and all the benefits it brings to the employees will help them understand that the new office furniture and the office itself have been designed specifically for their use. Designing a proper environment and open communication can result in happier employees!

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