Now Trending in the Workplace: Collaboration, Play, and Mobility
A look at the landscape of contemporary offices through a macro lens reveals certain unmissable patterns. Here, we zoom out—and back in—on four.
Paypal’s software development office sports a tribute to Mr. Spock.
In today’s world, hurtling at warp-speed into the future of design, pinning down a trend may seem like bottling lighting. On a micro level, the differences in workspaces—from company culture to degree of connectivity to use of tech—inevitably seem significant. But a look at the landscape of contemporary offices through a macro lens reveals certain unmissable patterns. Here, we zoom out—and back in—on four.
1. The office is on the move
Standing and walking desks are certainly picking up the pace for the formerly chair-bound, but there’s more to the dynamism of today’s offices than this shift towards the vertical. Mobile technology enables mobile working like never before, and that change is turning the traditional office more into an occasional communal meeting ground than a daily home for many. Multi-tasking, too, is becoming a more common expectation, as open office spaces increasingly replace cubicles and telecommunications tech introduces more flexibility to required in-person conferencing. The winning design of our “Workplace of the Future” Competition, by Organic Grid+, for example, allows employees to customize “all walls, desks, and meeting rooms to best suit their needs.” The ultra-adaptability of the space also cuts down on the need for costly renovations.
A hunting-themed room at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters adds a fun punch to the office environment.
2. All work and no play makes an office a dull space
Whether in the form of nutritious snacks or a ping-pong table, perks are, well, perking up once-staid offices of yore. Happy employees are engaged employees, and higher retention rates (less turnover of workers) means less costly training and hiring. Imaginative design choices place new emphasis on encouraging creativity and amplifying innovative thinking—with privacy pods for serenity, exercise rooms to flex new muscles, and stocked pantries to nourish hard work. Green walls and indoor green spaces further help fresh ideas breathe. The Airbnb Headquarters in San Francisco, for example, incorporates “a kitchen, library, nerd cave, place to nap” and few fixed workplaces.
The Hybrid Office offers hideaway and collaborative spaces in equal measure.
3. All together now
Collaboration, that essential play-well-with-others vibe, is now prized more than ever, with shared tables, meeting spots, and varied eating spaces. That old-school water-cooler banter can take its pick of new social hubs—snack nooks, brainstorming corners, or mini-courtyards. Careful acoustic planning, too, is in high demand, so that dialogue is encouraged without leading to distraction or sacrificing productivity. Edward Orgosta’s Hybrid Office, the runner-up in our Workplace of the Future 2.0 Competition, aims to maintain “a balance between introverted and extroverted workspaces that would allow for both active collaboration and quiet focus.”
The winner of our Workplace of the Future, Organic Grid+ gives employees the opportunity to harvest their lunch on the premises.
4. Healthy workplace, healthy planet
Reclaimed, reused, and recycled materials and products are now de rigueur in the contemporary office. Wherever possible, waste should be kept to a minimum, while sustainable energy practices can power newly efficient businesses. Aside from the economic savings (which are considerable), the eco-friendly office of today is simply kinder to the planet than its predecessors. A truly modern office environment is one that’s good for the rest of the environment.