Peter Gibbons wouldn’t know what to do with himself in today’s Office Space! Gone are the days of cubicle life as workplaces begin to take on a new identity. The past few years have seen a sharp rise in flexible working environments as we no longer need to be confined to a single workstation.

With office barriers rapidly coming down, more workplaces are embracing new age office design to include open-plan, flexible furnishings, social hubs, the adoption of new technologies and a variety of collaborative spaces.

This shift has seen a strong focus on recruitment and employee satisfaction, with companies now crafting engaging workspaces that provide a unique experience - all helping to attract and retain their industry’s best talent.  

Here we break down the core elements of how workplaces are adapting to meet changing employee expectations.

From cubicles to open plan

The workplace doesn’t have to resemble an old-school library with a white interior and deathly silence! These days, developing the right company culture is at the forefront for most companies. After all, a happy worker is a productive one. Cubicles have been dismantled as many organisations are now embracing an open plan design with a hot-desking or activity-based layout. This is usually complemented with breakout areas and secondary spaces for work that facilitate your current task at hand.

In fact, the team at Anomaly dedicated an impressive 75% of their new office to casual working. This means that staff can work at a variety of settings that are anything but your standard desk! Brainstorming session? Have it on the timber bleachers. Need to concentrate? Take a seat in one of the personal working pods. Fancy some natural light? Take your laptop to one of the comfy chairs overlooking St Pauls. Working on a piece with a colleague? Then the communal dining table is all yours! This is a testament to how the office has well and truly evolved to not only facilitate, but to complement our working lives.

Open plan offices are anything but a sea of uninterrupted desk space, as they’re all about versatility. Suez’s new office was designed with a variety of work spaces to encourage spontaneous collaboration. This provides employees with the option of how and where they want to work, providing extra flexibility. They’ve provided hot desking workstations, standing desks, touchdown points, solo desk pods and sofas for relaxed collaboration.

Since moving in, 76% of SUEZ staff can now find somewhere to concentrate and 79% of staff feel that they can easily find somewhere to work away from their desk when needed.

From the water cooler to the bar

Getting to know your colleagues in the confines of a drab lunch room, or just over the water cooler is a thing of yesteryear! Many companies are intentionally designing social settings into the office, whether it be in the guise of a games room, a family-style kitchen, café inspired breakout space, or even a bar!

FirstRand’s London headquarters features a jukebox in their breakout area to provide some background tunes while employees unwind over a game of ping pong. Different seating styles (including couches and benches) were used to provide extra space for employees to chill, network or watch their colleagues face-off on the court.  This type of design also allowed FirstRand to put a spotlight on the importance of socialising in the workplace and not make it all about crunching numbers.

Collaborative work spaces

It used to be thought that you could only be productive at your desk. If you were in the kitchen, or a breakout space, then you were on a break. But what if you just wanted to work away from your desk? Today, more organisations are realising the need to create spaces that facilitate collaboration and allow employees to work in a variety of settings. In fact, that’s the whole concept behind agile working.

Inspiring collaboration means proactively addressing how employees engage and work with one another throughout the day. The design of your workplace can go a long way in terms of facilitating collaboration. Can you have a creative brainstoming session at the end of a bank of desks, trying to keep quiet, or really let the creative juices flow while you’re sitting on some ottomans in a breakout space. Collaborative spaces not only inspire creative thinking and innovation, they can also nurture better working relationships between employees.

Embracing new technologies

Remember when you had a desktop PC, or when you first discovered the office didn’t actually have WiFi? We now live in an age of always-on connectivity. Changes in communication standards have empowered employees to be able choose when and where they work. When all you need is a laptop and WiFi, you can work from a variety of settings throughout the office - be it a breakout space, couch, standing desk or even in the kitchen.

WiFi is essential to implementing hot desks or activity-based working in new office designs. While you might be positioned at a desk for the majority of the day, if you’re having a break in the kitchen, or if you want some solitude to work in an unoccupied breakout area; a reliable WiFi network allows you to stay connected.

Integrated digital facilities management booking systems like Evoko can increase your space utilisation and remove any remove any staff confusion (and meeting room anxiety!). In the new fit out for AMC Networks, we were able to reduce the amount of meeting rooms required through smart space planning, and installed a meeting management system to ensure the rooms are used as effectively as possible. Through a tablet mounted next to the meeting room door, employees can see if the room has been booked, allowing them to see if the room is free, or who booked it  - removing the old ‘we had this room booked’ debate! This smart system allows staff to discern if they can have a spontaneous and uninterrupted catch-up in what would otherwise be a ‘booked’ vacant room.

The workplace has changed so much over the past two decades. With technology being developed so fast, and ever-changing consumer standards and expectations, we can’t wait to see what the workplace will look like in the next ten years.