By Tom Loveland, Global SVP of Product Strategy
More than 10 billion square feet of office space exists in the United States and most of it consists of cube farms and fluorescent lights. It’s the traditional office where anyone older than 30 expects to spend the bulk of their career.
But as our workforce and businesses evolve, how will workspace keep pace? As the next generation enters the workforce, where will they find workplaces with the important aesthetics they need to thrive.
Today’s leading designers feel tomorrow’s workspace must allow employees to:
- Socialize – easily connect with co-workers and form relationships.
- Collaborate – meet both formally and informally to get work done in groups.
- Learn – absorb the company culture, work procedures and grow as individuals and leaders.
- Focus on work –concentrate and do career-best work – wherever that may be.
Workspace must also allow the company’s culture to shine. When Google experienced its rapid growth, it focused on maintaining a culture of innovation in order to attract and keep top-notch talent. That said, workspace might consist of large open areas for collaboration or closely connected work pods – whatever it take for your organization’s brand and culture to be clearly represented.
Of course the mobility of employees plays a huge role in your workspace size and design. What once was static – the days when 100% of employees spent 100% of their time in the office – is today mobile. Portable computers, tablets and smart phones challenge the relevance of the traditional office and its physical size.
Our workforce today is in constant motion. They’re in the field. They’re telecommuting once or twice a week. They’re working from coffee shops and hotel lobbies. They’re available and always on – which isn’t always a good thing!
The result is that companies are shrinking the amount of office space they buy or lease and designing space for the mobile worker. The new workspace offers more meeting rooms, hotel or hot-desking options so employees can reserve space at the office when they need it, and other efficiencies that lower costs and improve employee performance.
While our mobile workforce is critical to organizational success, we must remember that face-to-face interactions remain the most important activity in any workspace.
Which brings us back to the office aesthetic – creating the right balance between real physical space needs, employee demands and establishing a culture that people (i.e., your future employees) want to be part of – whether in the office for a meeting once a month or occupying an office five days a week.
Your office environment is a strategic tool for growth. How you maximize workspace and drive efficiencies could very well determine your success in the years to come.