Workspace designers should look to domestic interiors for inspiration for the next generation of office builds, say a series of reports released this month.
A Mori report out this week entitled Working Environments of the Future, calls for workspace design to ‘mimic life in the home’ by encompassing a wide variety of working spaces.
According to the study, which surveyed middle managers in London companies with more than 100 employees, respondents are looking for a ‘borderless’ office that ‘brings variety to the workplace’.
‘In the same way that people move around their own homes to do different things, such as socialise in the living room and read quietly in the bedroom, offices need to enable [variety],’ claims the report.
Meanwhile, DEGW’s The Distributed Workplace, which summarises the findings of its two-year, â‚¬5m (£3.4m) study into the future of office spaces, says the rise of the information age has ‘exposed the inadequacies’ of traditional ways of working.
In the future there ‘is likely to be a blurring between working and living – people won’t need a distinct workplace’, says DEGW research consultant Paul Wheeler.
But, he adds, many people will choose to work in an office space for its ‘social and cultural role’ but will look for an environment that also incorporates the best aspects of working at home.
Wheeler maintains that flexibility and mobility are key. ‘Current [designs] still focus on the PC, but the technological building blocks are now in place for a more mobile approach,’ he says.
Wireless technology and smaller input devices such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants point to a flexible interior that is not based around ‘maximising the number of spaces for individual PCs’, says Wheeler.
BDG Workfutures is currently working with two media clients and a construction client and each brief has included a ‘designated social space’, says BDG senior associate Jason Turner. Amenities range from sofas to cafÃ©s and it is becoming desirable for staff to have a variety of options, explains Turner.
The Mori report agrees the office will retain its central function ‘due to a strong attachment to the camaraderie and team environment’. But, for designers it seems that inspiration from the home will play a key role in maximising productivity in the office.
How managers see the office of the future
More variety in office space – including comfortable and spacious rooms for entertaining clients, quiet thinking spaces and social areas that give people ‘space to escape the desk’.
More control – staff want to be included in decision-making about the layout and design of the office.
Improving services – companies are likely to offer a wider range of services, such as shops, dry-cleaning and crÃ¨che facilities, but the key lies in employee choice.
Need for storage solutions – the paperless office is still a long way away, designers need to think creatively about how to reduce clutter.