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Collaborative Office Design

As the nation’s economy recovers, companies are realising that newer office layouts can encourage collaboration and, in some cases, shrink their space requirements and costs.

Things like conference rooms designed for 20 were often being used by just two or three people. So, designs creating more “focus” rooms - smaller spaces where two to four people could huddle are becoming the norm.

“Work is really getting done in smaller teams,” says Chris Johnson MD at JS Office Environments

Post cubicle offices began to crop up in earnest about a decade ago, inspired by changes in the way people worked. They feature lower divides between desks, or even no division, and more areas designed for conversation, to encourage impromptu problem-solving sessions.

Many companies were intrigued by the idea, but the recession stalled the trend

“Ten years ago we didn’t engage people on how they work” Mr Johnson says “We were purely selling furniture and now we’re promoting office interiors.”

During the 60’s and 70’s, private offices were a symbol of rank and privilege. But new partitions, some of them six feet tall, could be arranged to provide similar privacy for rank-and-file workers, who had largely laboured in open areas with their desks placed in rows.

In recent years, as electronic communications supplanted paper and flat-screen monitors and laptops replaced unwieldy desktops, businesses found that workers were left with unused space. Some of them also were feeling isolated.

Younger workers were accustomed to using wireless devices in settings like coffee shops, where they could move around and chat, rather than being tethered to workstations. Breakout seating and breakout tables have become an important part of the office landscape

There are incredible changes in demographics in the workspace. Many clients demand hard data on the best ways to drive productivity and improve employee morale through interior office design.

People are collaborating much more now that they aren’t bound by walls or screens.

Many managers and executives still have offices, but they are being standardized at 120 square feet. That means smaller offices for some executives, creating more open space that can be devoted to common areas. It also is easier to move people, since rank no longer dictates space allocation.

Posted by Chris Johnson on 17 December 2013