Office Design - New Ways of Working
The principle of New Ways of Working is to give people the scope to use the office as they want, as opposed to making people adapt tasks to a desk or a meeting table. It recognises remote working and the demise of the workstation as the sole place to work.
New ways is the general term covering offices using a mix of hot desks, soft meeting areas, breakout zones, and all other office layouts that don’t fit the typical mould of workstations and partitioned rooms.
Office spaces are divided into three classifications of working zones.
First Space refers to conventional desk / workstations.
Second Space are meeting rooms and enclosed offices.
Third Space is everything else..breakout, touchdown, library…anywhere else that supports working.
Alongside the drive to customise offices, companies typically break the rigid link of a desk for every office employee. The freedom created by wireless networking has been a major driver, and the furniture / layout designers have seized on this freedom to develop New Ways of Working.
Research into the working day highlights the varying styles of work that should be fostered by the office.
- Concentration is the predominant style, and typically involves a desk, but can be supported by a quiet area (library) or smaller enclosed space (a booth). Focus space where control of noise and interruption is a worthwhile use of space.
- Collaboration is a significant part of the day. Historically centred on a meeting room, office designers are increasingly placing open and partially enclosed meeting spaces within open plan areas. This works well for less formal or less private meetings, and encourages staff to use meeting spaces transiently.
- Consideration, or room to think, times of the day when inspiration is needed. Designing consideration spaces typically involves higher ceilings or outside space, or creating an area that has fewer boundaries.
- Social Interaction. The office also fulfills an important social function that is a valuable part of being at work. Although social needs are easy to dismiss, many people cite the social side of work as a key reason for being there.
Flexibility is a vital component of New Ways. Spaces should no longer have just one purpose, even workstations should incorporate ad hoc expansion and collaboration scope, so that the office supports adaptable working, rather than dictating a rigid work mode. A subtle change in purpose, with a big impact on the business.
Mood setting can be an acceptable face of controlling user experience. Spaces designed to support different ways of working are enhanced when the dressing of the walls and finishes reinforces the purpose. So sales areas could have a firey or competitive mood-setting. Concentration zones could be dressed to add to the intensity and focus; collaborative spaces might include scenes of team ethos or achievement…whatever sets the appropriate scene.
New ways extends to areas such as staff cafes, mixing sustenance with collaboration and consideration, a further example of multi-purpose flexibility.
Acoustic control has moved to a more prominent point in the deign process. Mixed mode working blends numerous settings in close proximity, but lack of acoustic control can make the new office less effective. As acoustic improvements are developing and become integrated into the office design from the outset they are effective at reducing intrusive noise.
Latest Office Design Ideas
A feature of new ways of working is the balance now being brought to open plan office design. Broken plan is the design technique used to add zones which break up the open plan floor areas without taking away the advantages that come from taking down walls. Using broken plan office design puts back some humanity but at the same time maintains a flexible, adaptable, interior.
Ways of Working Design Considerations
In practice the change to a new style of office has pitfalls. Breaking the link to one man-one desk can appear negative. Fusion use the possibilities of design as a means to bring the focus onto the positives of opportunity. We work with staff groups to discuss preferences, present options and ideas, getting a consensus on the best features to add in, rather than focusing on the loss of desks.
Excitement generated by a collaborative design process, with creative images and suggestions, builds buy-in and reduces feelings of helplessness that is a natural by-product of change. As well as bringing the design ideas, Fusion often use the ‘visioning’ process to create a dialogue within your business.
To see information on New Ways of Working design styles click here
The workplace is still by far the best route to inculcate corporate culture and effective innovation. New ways is a successful change in office design to support these. It’s established to unshackle people, bridge the workstyles of different generations, and is used as a key agent for change within a company. Often the process is used to reduce property costs, but this misses the wider value to the organisation…increased business performance. Alongside the positives it’s vital to avoid the pitfalls…any change must be communicated, explained and affirmed in order to get the maximum advantage.