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Office Space

5 Modern Office Design Trends to Improve Employee Morale

Why have offices changed? Among other things, modern office design is setting itself apart from the traditional cubicle office because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the old model has become ineffective, and a hindrance to productivity – particularly for today’s workforce.

 

But why? And why do modern concepts like collaborative spaces and flexible offices matter more today than before?

 

The answer is complex, but two factors that should be heavily considered are:

 

      • The internet
      • Economic instability

 

Both give us clues as to how to improve worker morale and boost productivity – and why these modern office design trends are integral in achieving this.

 

Why Flexibility is Key in Modern Office Design

 

A considerable chunk of today and tomorrow’s workforce grew up in a time when the most important technology of the century was making annual leaps in terms of connectivity and possibility.

 

Concepts like e-commerce and telecommunication existed mostly on paper only a few decades ago – today, they’re commonplace and virtually irreplaceable. We’ve gone from clunky and immovable workstations with barely more than a few megabytes of memory to thousands of times the same processing power within the palm of our hand.

 

Our idea of the modern office must adjust accordingly. There is no need to keep workers chained to inefficient cubicles and maintain a stifling work environment.

 

A design based around the same principles as the internet can not only improve productivity, but boost morale – people expect the following:

 

      • To be connected 24/7
      • The ability for collaborating and withdrawing to individual corners in a matter of seconds
      • Having the flexibility to work from anywhere in a varied and refreshing office space, rather than spending eight hours at a single desk

 

Today’s Workers are Worried and Stressed

 

The second factor also translates immediately into why a comforting design philosophy, high morale, and appropriately employee-centric company vision plays such a critical role in productivity.

 

The idea of the stable, safe job with benefits and a clear future is dead to many. Adults who are entering the workforce today vividly remember the lasting effects of the great recession and are aware of how the rise in a gig-based economy has led to an increased focus on providing transitory spaces and an emphasis on outsourced talent rather than investing heavily in in-house talent.

 

Many workers are paranoid that they simply won’t be with any one company for very long, and they are often uniquely aware of their own expendability, working hard to prune and perfect an ever-growing virtual portfolio and social presence, mixing their work life with their personal life online, and marketing a personal brand.

 

They understand the importance of the bottom line and have little faith in a company to prioritize their wellbeing. This is just one major factor that makes it hard for many to genuinely give a company their all – they don’t feel valued, and experience has taught them to expect little.

 

Why You Need to Care About Employee Morale

 

Happy workers are effective workers.

 

But to be happy, workers need to be positively motivated, and in a good mood. It doesn’t help to create an atmosphere of terror at the workplace, one where everyone is out to compete against one another. A productive workplace must provide collaborative opportunities for its workers, and it must motivate them through a potential long-term career.

 

There’s little value for workers in free training and experience when it is plain as day to them that they don’t have a future at any given firm. For startups, companies that give workers little control or insight over the future of the company gives them little reason to care about the work they do, and how it affects the business.

 

Most people say they care about money, but most people really care about more than just money. They yearn to be a part of something greater, and see their input translate directly into tangible results, not just in the form of a great paycheck, but something they can be proud of.

 

Design plays a critical role in motivating people to be more productive; it helps make them feel like they are a part of something important. Here are a few simple yet critical modern office design trends that cater to this shift.

 

 

1. Create Flexible Spaces

 

It’s clear that cubicles do much more harm than good. It’s simply not productive to stay stuck to a single spot for hours at a time for days, weeks, and months on end. Flexible office spaces eliminate static desks and workspaces, instead replacing them with common areas and shared spaces.

 

Need time alone to work on a project?

      • Go into a soundproof room or a meeting room and get to work.

Out of ideas?

      • Head to the break room for a while.

Just want to engage others and maybe work on a new project?

      • Find one of several different collaborative spaces and just listen in and engage.

 

Coworking or flexible spaces allow people to work on their own stations, or on their laptops, or their phones – alongside others, or alone, on a sofa, or by a window. It is the most popular modern office design trend that we are seeing.

 

2. Utilize Collaborative Furniture

 

Collaborative furniture is the exact opposite of a cubicle, tearing down the four gray walls and replacing them with scattered coffee tables, larger collaborative meeting tables, and sofas instead of single office chairs. Comfort over formality, and community over strict individuality.

 

Some key features to collaborative furniture include sockets and lightning options, adjustable heights, large interactive monitors to easily launch and present quick pitches and ideas, or just a whiteboard/blackboard and a few comfortable couches or bean bag chairs.

 

3. Make the Break Room Fun

 

Break rooms should be more than just a simple kitchen with a semi-functioning coffee machine. Rather than picking a boring stereotype, build a break room you and your employees would genuinely enjoy – one you can drop by in for a quick five-minute refresher, or a somewhat longer recharge.

 

It shouldn’t be a total game room – a workplace is ultimately still for work, and if an employee is having a day when just nothing is getting done, it might be more productive for them to take the day off and have a break at home – but the break room should still be something tailored specifically to your company.

 

4. Implement Biophilic Design

 

Less to do with flexibility, collaboration, and individual creativity, biophilic design simply aims to make the most of the aspects of the natural world that enhance our creativity and make us feel more at ease.

 

The calming effects of forests and other nature-filled spaces have been recorded in the past. Now, biophilic modern office design tries to incorporate this through more:

 

      • Natural light
      • Certain colors
      • Decors, materials, and furniture

 

The result is an interesting blend of modernity and nature. One that is meant to improve productivity by reducing unneeded stress.

 

5. It’s More Than Aesthetics 

 

Designing an office space is understanding that our environments shape us, both actively and passively. It’s not just surface-level stuff, with empty platitudes and color schemes pulled straight off a pop psych magazine.

 

An effective modern office design ultimately strives to get at the root of what makes employees and workers anxious. It then aims to eliminate these factors. From there, they can focus on doing what fulfills them and makes them proud of their hard work.

 

 

Common Questions About Modern Office Design

Why Have “Traditional Offices” Changed?

Modern office design sets itself apart as we see the traditional model has become ineffective. It is a hindrance to productivity, and lessens employee morale.

Why Is Employee Morale Important?

Happy workers are effective workers. Producing an office design that continually inspires, allows for collaboration, and motivates people leads to more productivity and success.

How Can You Improve Employee Morale with Office Design?

You can improve morale through design by: implementing flexible offices, utilizing collaborative furniture, creating a fun and creative break room, using biophilic design, and reducing worker anxiety through design.

 

Conclusion

 

Offices should aim to help workers feel comfortable in their downtime and motivated in their working time. They should be sterile or staid, but they shouldn’t simply be playful for no reason.

Implementing these modern office design trends properly means understanding what your workers need and working with professionals to fulfill those needs.

 


Read More:

7 Ways to Avoid Creating a Toxic Workplace Environment
Categories
Gig Economy

How the Gig Economy Is Changing Work as We Know It

The gig economy is changing the way that we work, whether we like it or not. Here’s what it means for your company and the offices of the future.

 

While the institution of the ‘job’ and the history of the 40-hour work week make it seem like what work is and can be is set in stone, the reality is that our understanding of work has never been consistent, and there’s always been a constant shift in how we classify, divide, and make use of labor, especially as technology and constant innovation brings about faster and faster change.

 

Yet while the changes in our understanding of work are constant, there’s one major shift that has had everyone talking for the entirety of the 2010s – the shift towards a gig-based economy.

 

Over the course of the last decade, that shift has not been fully realized. The truth is that the gig economy still only accounts for a fraction of the nation’s workers. Yet hidden beneath that data is another, far more important fact:

 

While few people rely on gigs to survive and fund their daily bread, an ever-increasing number of people are taking side-jobs, doing gigs on top of traditional work.

 

It’s impossible to argue that the gig economy has not changed work as we know it – but it’s important to figure out what that change means.

 

What is the Gig Economy? 

 

The gig economy is a phenomenon largely based on the ever-growing success of the freelancer lifestyle as made possible through leaps of progress in personal computing and the social integration of the internet into both daily life, and the marketplace.

 

The rise of tech startups  and countless other businesses has given way to a completely new form of work characterized by a lack of proper employee-status, but a much wider range of freedoms. These include:

 

  • TaskRabbit
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • DoorDash
  • Deliveroo
  • Airbnb

 

Rather than entering into long-term contracts with monthly salaries, gig workers enter into short-term contracts or simply earn money on a task-per-task basis, with the ability to opt in and out of work at nearly a moment’s notice.

 

Using the analogy of a bundle sticks which determine the factors that make up the relationship between an employee and an employer, a gig worker is someone who holds more sticks than their employer (having more freedoms in matters of choosing when and where to work, what to charge, and so on).

 

The gig economy does not exist solely on the basis of tech firms and phone apps, but also exists in the form of countless contractors and self-branded freelancers who work independently with various companies for short periods of time.

 

In some cases, the gig economy has even led to the full formation of fully-fledged professional teams composed of individual freelancing professionals: ephemeral pseudo-companies set up to complete a massive and complex project before disbanding, much like film crews.

 

A New Way Forward

This new way of working represents a much more fluid interpretation of what it means to work and calls for a completely new understanding of the relationship between a company and the people it employs, and the subsequent rules of engagement.

 

The benefits are clear:

 

  • With more freedom, workers have the ability to prosper and compete on an entirely new level
  • They can take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them through social networks and various networking platforms to carefully curate and manage a personal brand, on a level never before possible. 

 

But it’s not gone off entirely without a hitch, either, as many are concerned about how the prevalence of gig-based work might affect the social safety net that several generations of Americans worked hard to create in most forms of traditional labor across the country. Because it’s a nascent economy, there’s very little set in stone, and much can still happen.

 

Coworking in the Gig Economy

 

Greater freedom in the relationship between companies and workers contributes to new ways of working, particularly fueling the growth coworking spaces. These ‘shared offices’ have been growing throughout the world since the turn of the century, and they have been taking off more so now than ever.

 

There are several reasons coworking meshes so well with the growing gig economy, and why one feeds directly into the other. While the gig economy is fueled by an increased need for flexibility and self-determination in a post-recession market, built by a generation that has experienced a volatile economy and strives for greater independence from companies and employers, coworking represents the continued human need for a community.

 

There’s no denying that telecommunications have paved the way for a completely new way to work together. Teams are forming across oceans, and projects are coordinating between continents. Yet there are still benefits of physically working side-by-side with professionals you trust and admire. This is beneficial even if they aren’t working in the same field, or in the same company.

 

Coworking has paved the way for a completely new arrangement in the workplace where employees from different companies and freelancers working by themselves can come together to work independently, collaborate by choice, or simply share in an atmosphere driven by the will to be productive and work towards an interesting and exciting future.

 

The Offices of the Future

 

While coworking is scheduled to continue growing massively throughout the world, particularly as a way for freelancers and independent contractors to continue to benefit from having a place to focus on their work and be away from home, and as a way for companies both big and small to massively reduce overhead, the traditional private office is still here to stay.

 

But it won’t be completely unscathed. Coworking has a lot it can teach other office spaces, particularly about productivity and learning to accommodate workers in different ways to help them individually maximize how best they work. Some people work better collaboratively, while others prefer competition.

 

Some need total silence and a space to call their own, while others like the white noise and work well alongside others. As we move away from standard offices, unhealthy cubicles, and setups that are increasingly leading to worker illness, burnout, lifestyle issues and early deaths, the offices of the future must focus on improving the efficiency of the individual by better catering to their needs.

 

Common Questions About This New Trend

What is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is a phenomenon largely based on the ever-growing success of the freelancer lifestyle. Rather than entering into long-term contracts with monthly salaries, gig workers enter into short-term contracts or simply earn money on a task-per-task basis,

What are the Benefits of a Gig Economy?

Workers have the ability to prosper and compete on an entirely new level, and they can take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them through social networks and various networking platforms to carefully curate and manage a personal brand.

How Does the Gig Economy Affect Office Space?

Greater freedom in the relationship between companies and workers contributes to new ways of working, particularly fueling the growth coworking spaces