Despite sleek computers standing on desks, offices are a place where time seems to have stood still. Many are fundamentally the same as they were a century ago.
Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says things like desks, chairs, filing cabinets, telephones are still the building blocks of most offices. But now “must have” design concepts are emerging, illustrating what good offices should look like.
“We spend six to 10 hours a day at work so increasingly there is more thought being put into how we work. It’s now widely accepted that the atmosphere and architecture of our workspaces influence our productivity.”
The ideal office consists of seven different zones, each providing for one aspect of our working environment.
Home base or quiet area
The home base, or quiet area, is closest to the classic “chair and desk” concept, just without the background noise. “This is a place where you can fully concentrate on your work, write that important email, develop concepts and ideas, take planning for that crucial process one step further. When you sit here, you can be sure that you won’t be interrupted,” says Trim.
Focused on supporting communication, the open plan area is a cousin of the home base area. Sitting down here says, “Yes, I’m working, but feel free to talk to me.” With an open and inviting design, this area is ideal for productive teamwork for groups of two or three. If more team members are involved, a meeting room featuring a long, central table provides the best solution.
“An open break-out area is invaluable for every office,” Trim notes. It’s the perfect place for some informal chat and informal work with a coffee or a snack. This area is also ideal for colleagues who don’t come into the office often and just want to catch up on their emails or prepare for a meeting.
The best place for a confidential phone call or an important one-on-one meeting is the so-called “refuge” area. These places are often equipped with mobile and flexible furniture, a whiteboard that’s integrated into the wall and a computer screen.
They can also be enclosed by glass walls that give the impression of a generously proportioned telephone cubicle, emphasising the intimate and confidential character of this area.
“It’s the place to go for important business meetings or a discrete conversation with your bank manager about your overdraft.”
Meeting room: conferencing, workshops and training sessions
Despite the trend of people working in different ways in different spaces, there is still a need for the good olde, traditional meeting room. “When decisions need to be made, presentations attended and training carried out, a dedicated meeting room is a must-have,” says Trim.
Space to stretch legs
It’s well known how sitting all day is hard on the body and mind. “If budget allows, it’s very healthy to have some space in the office that is just that, space. It’s not serving any other purpose other than an area to give people somewhere to simply move around in.”
In the office world, where tasks tend to be static, there’s nothing better than a bit of movement now and again to stretch one’s legs.
But what if your office space is too small? “Try walking down the corridors or up and down the stairs a few times,” Trim advises.
Resource room for equipment, stores
There are few things as testing in an office as being stuck near a photocopier or the stationery cupboard.
“Businesses often make the mistake of storing equipment and supplies in break rooms or confidential chat rooms which is naturally very disruptive to staff trying to use them. It seems obvious, but make a room for stuff and only stuff, Trim concludes.