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What Does the Future of Office Occupancy Look Lik

27 November 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us into a WFH (Work from Home) model. Even though, initially, this model felt alienating and inconvenient, employees and organizations are starting to perceive the benefits that it offers.

Hence, in the post-COVID world, a lot of companies are adopting the flexible working system, where employees are allowed to choose their work location and timings.

Offices that implement or accommodate this system are seen as the workplaces of the future, enabling their employees to enjoy the best of both remote and traditional working models.

In this blog, we will discuss a few office layouts and designs that are likely to dominate the coming years and even decades.

Office Designs and Layouts of the Future:

Open Offices:

An open office design is one that does not contain any enclosed cabins or other spaces.

Every employee, regardless of their designation or the kind of work they are doing, will sit and work with all other employees without any infrastructural divisions.

Open offices aim to eliminate the power distinctions brought about by the differences in seating arrangements. Here, a department manager and a newly-hired intern could sit side-by-side and collaborate more effectively.

Besides, every office item and resource is equally accessible to every employee present in the room. Since the equipment will be easily viewable, employees can check whether a particular resource is vacant and available for their use, without having to leave their seats.

Although the top executives might still have private offices of their own, the rest of the employees will be working together in a single space. This is also beneficial for employers, as it allows them to monitor all the employees at all times.

Alongside enhancing collaboration and efficiency, open offices also permit employees to move freely and add more physical activity to their working days. To encourage more movement, open office plans often contain multipurpose working equipment such as a fixed height desk that can be used as a computer station, event or task table, or just as a sturdy desk.

Other than that, an open floor design can be quickly modified as per the organization's needs, thereby increasing convenience.

Activity-Based Offices:

Activity-based offices are those that contain specific areas for specific activities. For instance, the meeting/conference space can be used to discuss organizational strategies; the brainstorming room can be used to come up with solutions or ideas to a specific problem; and the focus room can be used by employees who want to concentrate and are looking for some peace and quiet to be able to do so.

The idea behind an activity-based office is that being in the right physical space helps employees get in the right mental space for the tasks or activities that they need to perform.

Office Neighborhood:

An office neighborhood design is where employees on the same team or working on the same tasks can work together in open spaces, thereby forming a neighborhood.

This layout allows employees to become accessible to other employees that they might need to approach or consult during the course of their work. Other than that, workers can also access any task-related amenities.

Moreover, the neighborhoods can be adjusted as per the employees needs. For instance, if you have employees who like to play video games during breaks, you could have a game room with gaming devices like PlayStations or Xboxes.

Hot Desks:

The hot desk is another example of a flexible office arrangement where workers occupy different desks depending upon which desks are vacant at the time of their arrival.

This arrangement means that employees get to sit with and work alongside a different set of colleagues each day, promoting healthy relationships throughout the entire workforce. Hot desks are seen as refreshing, and can encourage creativity.

Another major advantage of the hot desk system is that you only set up a limited number of desks depending upon how many employees are working from the office. Hence, instead of wasting space by setting up desks that will never be used, the extra room can be used for other, more productive purposes.

The hot desk model is quite versatile, and can be implemented in both open and traditional office layouts.

Co-Working Spaces:

Co-working spaces allow freelancers and employees from the same or even different companies to work under a single roof.

The key difference is that, unlike a traditional office, a co-working space is generally owned by a third party. These third parties rent these spaces to companies, and the rental charge depends largely upon the number of employees who use the space.

This means that companies need not pay for sections that they will not use, which helps them save up on rent. For this reason, co-working spaces have become particularly popular among startups and new businesses.

Trophy Offices:

A trophy office is designed to come across as attractive, and encourage a greater proportion of employees to work from the office.

To create a trophy workspace, companies make use of the latest technologies like:

1. Virtual Reality: Technology that allows employees to interact with simulated 3D environments

2. Touch-less Tech: Allows employees to execute their tasks and activities without actually touching any device. Automated taps and doors are common examples of touch-less tech

3. Cloud Computing: Remote servers hosted through the internet that allow companies to process, manage, and store data, as opposed to using a personal computer or local server

Trophy offices are collaborative spaces most suitable for organizations with partially-remote workers. The enticing work environment encourages employees to make more use of the office and spend lesser time working from home.

Destination-Worthy Offices:

Destination-worthy offices are those that encourage employees to build a stronger connection with the organization's brand and what it stands for. These offices are designed in a way that emphasizes on the company's brand message, and use it to attract and retain talent.

These offices aim to inspire growth and promote employee loyalty by providing impeccable working experiences in a way that helps workers connect with the brand.

A good example of a destination-worthy office would be Reebok's Boston headquarters. One of Reebok's primary aims is the promotion of health and fitness. To help its employees better relate to this message, the company has included an extensive collection of its shoes and a sophisticated, two-storey gymnasium.

Hybrid Offices:

Hybrid offices have become extremely popular in the post-COVID world, and accommodate the needs of both remote and in-house employees. Employees working in hybrid workplaces can choose whether they want to come to the office or work from home.

Once again, these offices can make more efficient use of their space, since they are required to accommodate fewer employees than their conventional counterparts.

A hybrid office offers several benefits for business, including:

A reduction in distractions leading to higher employee productivity

Reduction in operating costs like utilities or stationery

Attracting better talents by providing flexible working options

Virtual Offices:

Virtual offices are where owners and employees work remotely, using the company's internet and software.

This type of office is, once again, quite attractive for startups and smaller businesses, since they do not require the company to spend on an office building and other resources or amenities. Besides, employees can work from wherever they want, adding flexibility and autonomy to their workdays.

Satellite Offices:

A satellite office is a particular company branch that is established in a physically separate location to the main headquarters. Apple's headquarters, for instance, is located in California, but the tech-company has 27 satellite offices spread across 25 countries around the world.

The satellite office model helps companies leverage off-shoring and near-shoring in order to expand in new and foreign markets.

The location of the satellite office determines the commuting distance for the employees. To ensure comfort and flexibility for your workers, it is best to establish a satellite office close to where most of your employees reside.

Benefits of Modern Offices:

According to a survey conducted by Jones Lang LaSelle IP Inc, by 2030, shared and flexible workspaces are expected to account for 30% of the global office market.

There are many reasons behind the popularity of modern office designs, a few of which are discussed below:

Greater Employee Health and Wellbeing:

Modern offices contain flexible and ergonomic furniture equipment, which allows employees to work without compromising their health. Also, since many of these offices are designed for easy movement, employees can avoid prolonged sitting and the major health consequences that accompany it.

But, in addition to physical health, modern offices can play a crucial role in enhancing the employees mental health as well. In fact, according to a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey, 38% employees would feel happier working under flexible office setups. These office models provide employees with some much-needed leeway and freedom – such as when and where to work from – leading to a more stress-free and relaxed workforce.

Reduced Costs:

Since modern offices permit both remote and in-house working options, they generally require fewer amenities than conventional setups.

For instance, in a traditional workspace, you will need to buy desks, chairs, and desktop/laptop computers for every employee. On the other hand, employees in modern offices can share seating spaces and use their own laptops, helping the company cut down on its overall costs.

Also, since many employees will opt to work from home, the company can rent a smaller premise and pay lower rent.

Greater Productivity:

Employee productivity is directly proportional to company output, which is why maximizing productivity is vital for any business.

Safe, comfortable, flexible, and functional working spaces make the employees feel that they are cared-for by their employer, which, in turn, motivates and inspires them to give their best every single day.

Final Word:

Conventional workspaces and traditional models are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and are being replaced by modern offices and increased flexibility. Organizations are rapidly waking up to the importance of providing versatile workplace and working models – importance that is only going to go up with the inevitable Gen-Z workforce domination in the coming years.