Contemporary space planners and building interior designers – even industrial psychologists – have long recognised the influence of changing demographics and social values, advancing technology, and the new nature of work on a company’s performance. After all, it is the people staffing an organisation that is the driver of business operations. This means human factors – mood, comfort, the need for natural light, space and privacy – need to be taken into account when designing the physical layout of corporate space. Work today often requires person-to-person collaboration or client interaction, and companies that keep up with the times and latest research seek corporate space that promotes optimal productivity.

Office Design Elements

Larger firms, because of their size, often value efficiency in addition to comfort-centric design. This takes the form of close grouping of personnel who cooperate often or who share common functions (e.g. departments or organisation by floor). Cost-efficiency can be achieved by the central location of shared spaces such as conference and break rooms, receptions, kitchens, and storage facilities. Staff will value the flexibility of modular furniture systems, which can be mounted on walls or moved around with ease. An alternative to rooms and office suites is zones – un-walled areas designated for unique functions (such as socialising or a private chat) and equipped with furniture and surroundings specifically suited for that designated purpose.

Because of the modern prevalence of collaborative work, businesses may be tempted by the open plan style of office layout (contrasted by cubicles). The idea is that creativity, team morale and identity, and open communication are fostered. However, drawbacks exist and need to be made known. Research has found open plan floors lead to decreased staff focus and productivity; as well as job satisfaction, which could in turn impact a firm’s ability to retain talent. It is best for noise management to be factored into office design – that is, workspaces should be positioned away from the main traffic flows.

Talent and reflection of corporate identity

A company’s brand and values are reflected in the ambience – exterior and interior – of the premises. This image is most prominent in the reception area, the first point of contact: businesses expend a lot of energy in choosing or creating a welcoming space, as first impressions can affect financial success in many ways. Technology companies, for example, emphasise aesthetically pleasing meeting and work places – elements such as a zone layout, carefully considered colour schemes and furniture material, and windows (natural light) are standard. Age demographic is a key factor behind this industry norm as young people make up the bulk of the technology sector. In an effort to attract top talent, amenities, in-house entertainment, network connectivity, and mixing of work and private life are commonly offered by firms and keenly considered when selecting corporate space.

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