Office Design Needs to be Creative & Inclusive

Torbit - August 21, 2022 - - 0 |

In the post-pandemic world, the hybrid work model has opened a new dimension to th implementation of workplace design that promotes both privacy and collaboration where remote and in-office employees can work cohesively as a team. The latest workspace  design trends are moving away from the purely aesthetic to blend the beautiful and the functional in new and exciting ways. Many modern designs focus on improving employee engagement and productivity through optimising collaboration, focus and efficiency based on their shifting needs. 

In this interaction with Torbit Realty, Ms. Nidhi Marwah, Group Managing Director, The Executive Centre, Asia’s largest premium flexible workspace provider, talks about the key factors that are rapidly deciding what trends emerge in the design space. Excerpts. 

On designing to balance both privacy and collaboration 

The right balance between privacy and collaboration is one of the significant contributors to how a workspace design is implemented. With the workforce returning to the office after working from home, the office design needs to facilitate options of privacy and social interaction equally. Whether it is to mitigate health risks or habitual user behaviour due to social distancing, the pandemic has reinforced our need for privacy. Office design should arm organisations with the facility for private workspace as well as easy collaboration. For individuals, it means maintaining control over their immediate environment and privacy to work. On an organizational level, the privacy of the workspace gives the company control over culture and brand.  

On accelerating digital capability and adoption 

Earlier, the design of a workspace was dictated by the size and requirement of the technology used. Now, with technology becoming more space-efficient over time, the role of workspace design is to keep pace with the latest upgrades and drive adoption of digital capabilities throughout the organisation. A well-designed workspace can encourage and simplify access to new technology thereby increasing acceptance and active usage of various systems. But for the long-term success of any technology, it is essential that it is designed for and allows easy access to the full strength of the workforce  

On Integrating generations 

Businesses also need to consider the demographic of their workforce while conceptualizing the structure and design of the workplace. With the current workforce being mostly millennials and GenZ, we need to understand that the GenX workforce is still very much in business. GenZ is digital natives, meaning they have experienced and used technology from a young age. Having a mixture of generations in one workforce can be challenging to manage as no one solution fits all. Office design, HR policies and technology integration should promote collaboration between generations to foster productivity. The technology, systems and processes used for different generations also need to be simplified and integrated to provide the level  playing field for the totality of the workforce despite their age or location. It is vital for every member of the workforce to be armed with the same tools and ensure that they can access systems to aid productivity across the board. Workspace design can be vital in harbouring inclusivity, encouraging diversity and reinforcing company culture. 

On flexibility  and adaptability 

While overcoming the hurdles of volatility in global markets, the business should ensure continuity of its operations and work towards growth and productivity by being agile with business strategies, work models, and logistics. Reengineering office designs will catalyse better communication, ideation, and execution. In the future, the workplace will be an immense ecosystem of locations, both virtual and physical, to support employee health, deepen cultural connections, and foster creativity and innovation. Workspace strategies are now designed to be flexible, adaptable and location agnostic. 

On significance of workplace design to harbour productivity 

With organizations regaining business momentum, the primary goal is to boost operational productivity and expedite recovery. The adoption of a hybrid work model allows organizations to maximize productivity through a physical office while also allowing flexibility by making collaborations location agnostic. Employees have realized that it is feasible to be productive in alternative work modes while managing fatigue caused by long periods of working from home. Office design needs to be built to nurture creativity, dismantle hierarchy, and be designed for inclusivity. Minimized focus on corner office views and amplification of collaborative spaces which makes the new workforce feel welcome, acknowledged and supported. The demographic, employee well-being and focus on physical and mental wellness is now a priority. There is a growing need to build spaces that have amenities to support this long-term influence design and dictate the need for health and fitness centres, wellness rooms, access to a creche, and mental health experts. 

The last two years have made it evident that the corporate world is adaptable to unforeseen circumstances, by evolving its policies and business models to what suits them best in any predicament. Organizations must rethink their traditional work models if they want to attract and retain top talent. The need to rethink the workplace is not a choice but a business function. Hybrid working is here to stay, and organizations should practice accommodating new ways of working with office design, technology, and policies. 

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