Designing the Open Office: 3 Spaces You Shouldn’t Forget

Happy workers.jpgWorkplace environments are changing rapidly in our ever-connected digital era, and that’s a good thing. Gone are the days of anonymous cubicles, rigid environments, and brief pleasantries exchanged over the water cooler. Today’s employees want a workplace that supports their creativity, collaboration, and wellbeing. 

Just as the strict boundaries between work life and home life are increasingly fluid, so too are the physical spaces we work in. Forward-thinking office design ensures physical spaces that both reflect, and reinforce, a company’s culture, mission, and values.

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Resimercial,” the term for the blend of commercial and residential furnishings, is a contemporary approach to workplace environments that acknowledges that today’s employees seek flexible and comfortable spaces at work. Creating a workplace environment that both reflects and supports employees’ lives means rethinking traditional ideas about office space to make sure that they include three kinds of spaces:

1) Multipurpose Spaces

A great deal of the best work happening today in the workplace is collaborative and creative. As a result, workspaces need to be flexible and meet a wide range of needs from large meetings to small brainstorm sessions. To accommodate this need, consider comfortable furniture such as couches and modular sectionals that can be easily moved. In addition to large conference tables for large meetings, you’ll also want to have plenty of small tables where teams can work together on projects. Design company Steelcase calls such office spaces “the resilient workplace” for how they support employee wellbeing by offering a range of options for both individuals and groups.

2) Quiet Spaces

Collaboration is a crucial aspect of today’s work world, but in our ever-connected era employees also need space for cultivating focus, interiority, and silence. Creating intentional quiet spaces that offer privacy for deep dives and contemplation are just as necessary as flexible multipurpose spaces designed to foster greater interaction and connection. In fact, to demonstrate their support of employee wellbeing, as well as boost productivity, many companies are now dedicating spaces for meditation, yoga, and naps.

3) Lactation Spaces

Employees need spaces that support their work habits, as well as spaces that support their physical needs. Today women make up almost 50% of the workforce, and with millennials now as the largest generation, that will only continue. It’s crucial that today’s workplaces reflect the reality of women’s lives by providing easily accessible and sanitary spaces where breastfeeding mothers can plug in a breast pump so they can express milk at work. And depending on how many women work in a given office environment, workplaces will need to ensure that they have the appropriate number of spaces to meet the need.


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