There have been some key changes in office-based and corporate work in the last few years. One of the most dramatic developments has been the rise in remote and hybrid models of working. This shift in working practice was most noticeable during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many companies needed to allow their workforce to work remotely to comply with movement restrictions that were placed on the population whilst still ensuring business continuity. Today, the most severe effects of the pandemic seem to have passed, but many staff still enjoy remote working, at least on an occasional basis. For some staff, there is a recognition that this new form of working routine helps them to gain greater control of their work/life balance and enjoy a more productive day without the need to commute. However, there will always be a need for a shared physical workspace in the form of a company office. Face-to-face conversations and in-person meetings are more effective than those held in virtual spaces. In addition, it is easier to build efficient and effective teams when staff members work alongside each other. This article focuses on the physical office environment. Three key features will be explored that help to create a modern and efficient shared workspace.
1. Open-plan design
In older and outdated office environments, the design of such areas was geared towards maximizing the number of staff that could occupy the space. This often resulted in the construction of office cubicles, which were small and cramped. Effective communication was difficult in such environments and the working environment was not pleasant for many staff. Today, modern offices typically adopt an open-plan design methodology where desks and seating areas are not closed off from each other. It can be easy to walk around such spaces and speak to staff members who are not partitioned off behind enclosed areas. This helps to create a working environment where conversation and collaboration can take place quickly and easily. Short standup meetings and quick briefings can be delivered without needing to move to a dedicated meeting room which can help to create a focus on working tasks. The extra space that is created by removing boundary areas and enclosures also creates a more pleasant and comfortable working atmosphere. In short, open-plan offices are now seen as the preferred method of design to create an environment that is comfortable and encourages collaboration.
2. Regulated temperatures and improved air quality
Another key feature of modern offices is that steps are taken to ensure that both temperature and air quality are regulated effectively. Put simply, staff will be able to focus for extended periods in an environment that is well-ventilated and benefits from an ideal room temperature. Evidence indicates that an ideal office temperature is between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity levels between 20% and 60%. A vital way to regulate temperature and air quality in larger office spaces is to install commercial hvls fans. These are typically larger diameter fans that operate at a slower speed than smaller units. They are quiet in operation and can move larger volumes of air than conventional fans. Every large modern office should incorporate this vital piece of equipment into the plans for the space so that staff enjoy a comfortable and well-regulated working environment.
3. Relaxation and gaming spaces
It is widely recognized that staff need to take regular breaks during their working day. Ideally, this should consist of a short five to ten-minute break every hour. These short breaks ensure that high levels of focus can be achieved throughout the working day, driving improved levels of productivity and accuracy on the working tasks. Modern workspaces are now beginning to incorporate relaxation or gaming areas into their designs. Dedicated relaxation or “chill-out rooms” may sound counterproductive in terms of efficiency, but many leading companies are beginning to recognize their value. Taking a short break to listen to relaxing music or undertake a brief mindfulness exercise can dramatically improve concentration levels for the next few hours and can also improve worker motivation. These spaces can also include games such as table tennis or pool tables. Such amenities help to create a more relaxed working culture where staff members can enjoy a brief break, have some fun, and then come back to their desks refreshed and reinvigorated.
To sum up
The office environment has undergone significant changes in recent years to make these spaces more comfortable whilst allowing staff to focus more effectively and take time out for effective short breaks. Open-plan office designs are now favored, and these spaces will have effective temperature and air quality regulation along with dedicated areas for relaxation and recreation.
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