There has been a shift from traditional workplaces with cubicles, fixed walls to open offices with an open floorplate and shared working environment.
Today, it is no surprise for companies to hold a major team meeting in the middle of an open work area and later have a celebration in the same space. There lies the key to another major shift in workplace design– multipurpose spaces.
Multipurpose spaces can be used for different and multiple settings as and when required, providing a flexible work environment. It is about putting the often-under-utilised pockets of spaces at the workplace to good use by having the foresight that the particular area can be used in an alternate setup, much like multitasking. What it does is, create optimal workplace solutions for those nooks and cranies that were traditionally discounted as dead space. This could be a corridor or an ante room, an irregular corner or the area around the lift lobby.
Key to making the most of these spaces, is to factor in all possible utility of the area right at the design phase; and enable it for alternate functions by providing the necessary network or electrical connectivity requirement option, so that if need be, in the future the same area can be converted into a work area/ or may find another use. Such areas are best used for scrum meetings, daily-stand up, temporary hot desking etc.
A company housed in an irregular shaped building can utilize the corners and idle spaces of the facility in a productive manner, by placing movable workstations, so that the irregular area can accommodate the additional employee numbers. Many facilities have wide corridors and a lot of space goes to waste, which can be put to better use by building phone booths, having writing surfaces, installing movable furniture or placing table tennis or pool table for employees to unwind and relax. One could also use movable acoustic panels that act as visual barrier and absorbs noise as well.
While planning a new workspace, one should also keep in mind the heavy dependency on technology for smooth running of the business and accordingly provide ample provision for the same. Installation of tv screens, attached speakers and multiple plug connection points, advanced AV setups are necessary elements for breakout and recreational spaces.
Simultaneously, mobile walls, space dividers and privacy pods are important elements that help convert the space as per the need of the hour. Example: easy to move mobile space dividers make it easy to design the space for either a small group discussion or collaborative teamwork for a larger group. Movable walls and ceiling-mounted mechanical roller shades allow to cordon off the area even while conducting confidential meetings. Privacy pods serve as a phone booth but hold ample place for a team of 4-5 people to sit and work. The ability to transform a place from a focused work area to a collaborative area helps employees keep their privacy and get work done without distraction. Simultaneously, taking up the same space and recreating it as per use, shows a company’s foresight and flexibility.
Given the current change in office space requirement, a flexible office design can help maximize the workspace functionality and enhance productivity. Often overlooked spaces can be re-invented to engage employees too. Workplaces nowadays require a contemporary solution that helps maintain employee productivity levels and elevate enthusiasm in the work environment, resulting in happy employees, long term business growth and success.