No longer are we designing floor plates of traditional walled in offices adjacent to high paneled workstations. Instead the average individual workspace is shrinking and closed office design is transitioning into open floor plans made up of smaller workstations with low (to no) panels and open collaborative spaces for employee interaction.
Source: IFMA #34, 2012
Some influencing factors on this trend continue to be technological improvements such as smart phones virtual conferencing and VPNs. However, the blending of generations in the workforce also continues to impact the perspective on workplace design. Today, connectivity in the workplace goes beyond technology advances and includes the need for collaborative spaces to encourage teamwork and socialization. See typical furniture solutions below for examples of trending collaboration spaces.
1 & 2) Allsteel
1 & 2) Haworth
Today’s space planning design is a challenge as the shrinking workstation still needs to provide adequate worksurface space, storage and even guest seating. Panels have been reduced to heights in the range of 51-42” which has also decreased the available vertical storage. In response to these changes, workstation designs are being modified to include multiple levels, upholstered mobile units, various accessory rails and material options associated with furniture panel designs.
1) Herman Miller; 2) Haworth; 3) Allsteel
Even smaller than the typical 6’x7’ workstations is the trend toward using benching systems. Benching is a table based workstation solution with little to no acoustic or visual barriers. They are generally a smaller footprint and are designed to address specific needs related to flexibility and mobility. This is an option used to maximize efficiency in planning.
Collaborative, flexible and customizable spaces encourage communication and connectivity. Designs that also include suggested zones for informal meetings promote impromptu team based gatherings and a productive environment.