100% Design: 3 key points from The New Office Experience talk

28 September 2016. Features.

There is seemingly an endless debate about the emerging workplace trends, with specialists looking to deliver a neatly packaged answer as to how to achieve optimum productivity and efficiency in an office environment. This was a topic discussed at The New Office Experience talk at this year’s 100% Design exhibition at Olympia. The discussion was led by a panel made up of Daniel Gava, Director of Arper UK Ltd; Mark Catchlove, Director of Herman Miller's Knowledge and Insight Group; and Tom Lloyd, Director of PearsonLloyd, and chaired by Oli Stratford, Editor of Disegno.

The talk was insightful and we found these three key points the most valuable. The discussion explored the ideas surrounding the requirements for more engaging and smarter workplaces and considered which, if any, workplace trends contribute to a more productive workplace.

Focusing on the outcome

When we start to analyse how we work, it seems that our and the way we are working hasn’t radically changed at all. However, our focus and the things that we place value on have. Businesses used to be concerned with the processes and methods required to deliver work but the modern workplace is now far more interested in the results of your method. The process is up to the individual and the process, with in reason of course, in which you deliver work changes between industries, companies and even office locations. Ultimately there are lots of influences and opinions about what actually improves productivity and what type of work helps and/or hinders staff but it is nearly impossible to actually prove any of these ideas.

The emergence of the workplace strategist

The dynamic of the workplace is currently centred on a quest to provide a simple answer to what makes offices productive and which trends are the most effective. Everyone is looking for a narrative that says ‘this is the future workspace!’ but actually providing the right way of doing something is out of the question. 

However, the evolution of the office space owes a large amount to the rise of the workplace strategist. By bringing workplace strategists into the design phase, companies are getting spaces that represent their ideas and identity, rather than pre-packaged solutions. Introducing workplace strategists at an early stage in the design process helps to shape offices based on business goals and objectives not just aesthetic, quirky finishes. Design strategy has progressed and the value of excellent design strategy now has an important role in helping to mould the experience of individual companies and work environments so that are aligned to their most central objectives.

Balance and the freedom of choice

By putting less weight on the process of doing work and focusing more on the final outcome, it is essential for staff to be able to choose how to work in a way that supports their own individual needs. Offering this freedom of choice is what will spur staff on to achieve more in balanced office environments that allow for freedom and flexibility.

If there has to be an answer about what the future workplace looks like, then it will be a space filled with choice and one that is strategically balanced. Offices will have both private and collaborative spaces, informal meeting areas are used alongside traditional boardrooms and remote working might offer an advantage over sititng at your desk in order to deliver a certain project. Regardless of what the examples may be, it is the freedom of choice that is essential for people to be able to work how they want, when they want.

We constantly have new trends to contend with and new ways of thinking are developed which means there isn’t just one way of doing things. There are solutions to different problems and there is a huge amount left open to interpretation, but this shouldn’t be seen as bad thing. As technology develops, trends change and new schools of thought occupy the office, these new challenges mean we have to develop balanced designs that support a variety of working styles and begin to move away from generic solutions.

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