Future-proofing your office isn’t always about technology; design has an equally important, complementary role. Undoubtedly, technology can assist in improving efficiency and productivity but neglecting the physical space of your office can be a fatal flaw. It’s about finding that sweet spot where smart design and technology intersect.
Michael O’Neill, from renowned office furniture company Haworth distilled why it’s important to future-proof your office to the publication dezeen.com: the impact of mobile technology, employee demand for flexibility over the type and location of their work, and the cultural implications of workplace design.
O’Neill said, “You need to design office spaces for the next generation.” For instance, younger employees thrive in workplaces that offer features like standing desks, discussion pods, breakout areas and wall-free workspaces. ‘What will the next generation want?’ is the question on everyone’s lips.
With the cost of staff turnover increasing, businesses are focusing more on retaining their current employees. Consequently, businesses are finding that future-proofing their offices and demonstrating they are forward-focused is a crucial means to providing a workplace that boosts productivity and attracts – but more importantly – retains existing employees.
The length of your lease might determine the lengths you can go to with future-proofing your office. Different aspects of an office design may last up to 10 years or longer depending on a lease. If you get it wrong and need to make alterations after the fact, things can get costly. Know your limitations and spend your money wisely. If something doesn’t work, don’t struggle on – change it.
If you’re hamstrung by the terms of what your lease (or budget) allows, there is still a range of simple options at your disposal. For example, emphasising natural light, bolder and/or lighter colours or introducing greenery in the form of plants are some simpler and less expensive means for creating a more attractive and, therefore, productive and efficient office.
A flexible office is also a future-proofed one. If you start with a workplace that has few walls, minimal fixed features, reconfigurable furniture and other measures that mean the space can be altered quickly and cost-effectively, then you have gone a long way to future-proofing that office. No one workplace is the same so you should create solutions for yourself that are evidence-based: Is music working in the office or is it a point of contention? Are your employees continually complaining about noise and looking for quiet places? Is one team more distracting than another and would they benefit from a space of their own?
The questions you ask are the questions pertinent to your particular organisation. Future-proofing is different from one workplace to the next but the one consistent factor is the need for flexibility.
Future-proofing your workspace is a worthy investment – and one you can do in small moves – but breaking away from design trends of the past to fully embrace a modern, progressive office requires a working knowledge of where office design is heading. Make sure you seek the advice of professionals so your future workplace doesn’t become the office of yesterday before it even makes tomorrow.