The Open Office Blog, Pt. 3: Future of the Flexible Office

Exposed Brick & Ductwork Alone Will Not Beget Culture.

The origins of open office design were rooted in a need for greater connectivity and autonomy among workers. The need for this flexible workplace in practice is compounded by the influx of younger generations with progressive work styles, rapidly developing technology, and the desire for mobility and autonomy to work more effectively. We’ve looked at the Pros & Cons, What Has Worked for Individuals & Businesses…now, let’s examine the Future of Open Office Design.


What We’re Facing

Endeavoring for less than the triple-bottom line just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’re facing limited access to real estate through densification of metropolitan areas. Top performers master seamlessly shifting gears between their work and personal pursuits, consistently blurring the definition of “workplace”. Finally, the all-encompassing compulsion for bona fide engagement.

Shift in Focus

It’s a necessity to prioritize choice and connectivity while developing what could best be described as a cultural composition to foster a strong identity.

Pace of Progress

The ever-accelerating stride of innovation creates friction for companies trying to effectively leverage new developments in workplace (and mobile) technology while remaining responsive to the demands of their end-users.

New Ethos

An emphasis on embodying mission through every aspect of organization in order to foster internal & external senses of engagement is becoming a crucial differentiator.


What We Need From Open Office Design

A workplace to attract and accommodate top performers. A corporate culture that actively encourages innovation. An environment that rises to the challenges of each day for every inhabitant. We need to develop environments to meet a challenging combination of ideals: agility, connectivity, and sustainability. All while remaining attentive to the bottom line.

Alignment & Delivery

Promises should be kept. A purposeful mission embodied by the workforce is imperative for businesses trying to invoke experiential involvement. Supporting knowledge sharing and collaboration can foster a culture of innovative “Do-ers”, but realizing the vision contends on congruence.

Change Management

70% of change initiatives reportedly fail, and we’ll wager those steep hills to ruin are paved with lackluster follow-through. Effective transitions begin with utilizing end-user feedback, setting realistic goals that still reach, and developing specific metrics. Guided by tangible strategy, a growing brand can leverage their intangibles such that cultural identity supplements the bottom line.

Engagement

Fostering organizational engagement begins with individuals. Strategically encouraging direct interaction and participation can feed the necessary sense of membership for attraction|retention in a world where amalgamations of work and life are heavily influencing the status quo.

Winner of the “Workplace of the Future” Competition in 2014, this media agency designed by Edward Ogosta makes use of simple materials and combined functionality.

Approaching the Future of Open Office Design

Begin with conversation. Delineating needs, establishing etiquette, and creating an environment that levels congruence with financial measures has to start with feedback. Inform design with culture – not to be confused with fads. Fashions in office design may come and go, but we can expect at least one trend to staythe demand for flexible workspaces that meet individuals’ unique needs.

Accommodation

Balanced Options

The benefits of open spaces are evident, and ensuring the availability of concentrated privacy has proved to be a solid argument to open office objections. Budget for casual, communal, private, and recreational spaces in proportion to their usage.

Mobility

The remote worker is on the rise, and the workplace continues to see increasing need for instantly adaptable spaces. Cater to compatibility.

Amenities

Not every business can have a cafeteria and on-site massages. However, making considerations for peoples’ every day needs surrounding work (transit, nourishment, physical activity) can prove to be more than cost-effective with resulting health and morale.

Jarden Home Brands, where an open design of the workstations replaced high walls at the former headquarters.

Progressive Focus

Wellness

A swell of health-consciousness and tools for monitoring physical feedback make initiatives in support of well-being an attractive characteristic for the workplace.

Sustainability

Exemplifying a no-waste ethic extends past recycling bins and rain barrels. Efficiency in practice requires understanding the workplace ecosystem and leading by example. Embrace the “less is more” mindset to set the precedent of actively reducing waste.

Integration

Recharging stations and modular seating aren’t the seeds of culture. Aligned with the original goals of the open office, strive for a culture of members as opposed to an organization of employees. Providing ample communication, support, and opportunities for people seeking a place to belong can bolster environmental performance by supporting the end-user.

Apple Park’s enormous open office space has elicited some less than raving reviews.

People Don’t Want to be Cooped Up, Nor Exposed. What DO People Want?

All of the contrary evidence surrounding the open office concept indicates that the results are subjective, and we’ll probably only depart from workspaces that feel like “climbing inside a migraine” if we talk more about what works than what we found wrong. Exploring options for your own space? Let’s start the conversation about why you love, hate, or just desperately want to stop hearing about the open office. Or, click below to see a selection of open office plan idea starters we’ve put together!

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