The most important technological advancements set to affect our lives are not going to be the latest smartphones or apps. The concept of modern corporate offices is set for major disruption as we continue to spend more and more time at work.
A history of office design
Workplaces have changed dramatically over the years, but the original inception of office layouts is as old as Roman civilisation.
However, the notion of office buildings has only been around since the 18th century. From then on, office design has varied greatly. The early 20th century was inspired by Taylorism, which at the time was considered a disturbingly inhumane open space concept. With the rise of skyscrapers came the rise of socialising at the office, combining private offices, open-plan workstations and even a canteen or kitchen.
The 1960s were dominated by Burolandschaft “office landscaping” trend where plants were used to separate working areas and make the space more enjoyable. This was followed shortly by the “action office” trend and the notorious cubicle farm. Originally, cubicles were supposed to provide workers with their own personal space. While some prefer their privacy, most people tend to associate cubicle culture as desolate, anti-social and even soul-destroying.
Fast forward a few decades and the offices of today are designed as “open plan” to maximise staff engagement and cross-team collaboration. And that’s just the start of a whole new trend designed to make workplaces feel like a second home – because sometimes we spend more time there than we do our actual ones.
Here are some trends that employers have started to introduce into the workplaces of today:
More natural light
In the ongoing pursuit for maximum productivity in office spaces, artificial light may be a thing of the past. Soon the days of eye strain from the off-yellow colour of fluorescent may be behind us as employers opt for more natural sources. Workers are able to complete more tasks if performed in natural sunlight due to human body’s ability to maintain its circadian rhythm.
If your office doesn’t have enough windows and skylights, or if you work in a city like Seattle or Stockholm, adjustable artificial lighting is the best solution. Fresh and cool lights can be used in the morning with slightly dimmed lighting for a relaxed lunch break. You can also have the option to increase the brightness after meals to avoid becoming drowsy.
The whole office floor is becoming much “greener” in every sense of the word. It’s all about bringing the outdoors inside. Supposedly, indoor flora makes employees calmer, happier and more efficient. Green solutions are increasingly implemented into new offices with the rise in sustainable energy sources such as solar panels.
You may have heard energy rating terms such as Energy Star which evaluate how environmentally friendly a product is on a scale. Now offices can rated in a similar fashion, with a 6 star NABERS rating in Australia indicating market leading performance for indoor environment, energy and water tools.
Sitting is the new smoking
You’ve already heard of all the negative effects that desk-bound jobs including musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and so on. Employers are now introducing flexible workstations to combat this problem/ Standing desks and standing meeting rooms are designed to offset the problems caused by inactivity. On the other hand, standing for too long on a hard surface is also not recommended. According to one study, millennials can only stand as long as their middle-aged colleagues. Hence, sit-stand desks with anti-fatigue mats are going to become an integral part of every reputable office.
Of course, flexible work options including the ability to work from home are also set to disrupt the industry. Imagine not having to commute every day and the amount of work you can get done without the barriers of a physical workplace. While it is slowly becoming a more feasible option, office workplaces are set to remain dominant in the 21st Century. As technology improves, who knows what could happen?