The session Rethink Offices held at our showroom in Madrid and Barcelona has been the scenario chosen by Ofita to present its latest study about workspaces. “Best way to work” is an analysis of how to create work environments and spaces which improve employees’ productivity and satisfaction and a guide for the proper use of each workspace.
As explained by Martín López, Sales Director of Ofita,in the presentation of the study in Barcelona, companies are no longer stiff organizations but rather they are becoming flexible and agile networks to bring out the best of its employees and respond to new demands. “The difference is that the current revolution has involved in one single decade as many changes as the industrial one did throughout a whole century”.
He believes that “transformation is unstoppable and transversal to the whole company. Nothing can escape from it and far less the work space” because, he adds “new management practices and new methods go hand in hand with new work environments”.
In this sense, the Sales Director of Ofita recalls that offices today include spaces that a few years ago would have been unthinkable. “We may say that these spaces are defined by activities and ways to relate with others so in one same office the space is used by several people in different moments and with different purposes”.
Are new workspaces used properly?
The point is: are these spaces used properly? Know users how to use them? And therefore, are offices really optimized? “Best way to work” is trying to respond to these questions and therefore analyses seven work spaces of an “optimal office”: reception, work stations, concentration areas, collaboration areas, relax and leisure areas, learning areas and socialization areas as explained in this post. The study starts reminding that work spaces can have an influence of up to 30% in employees satisfaction” and in fact 70% of productivity problems of companies are related to the work environment” according to Gensler report
Traditional vs. open space office
Still today many offices continue relying on a traditional system for the distribution of spaces where the individualization of work stations has priority. This translates into a significant lack of socialization and collaboration.
At the other side, many companies following this trend of the open space have abused of the elimination of barriers with spaces that do not ease concentration and the generation of collaborative actions. Therefore, the solution is to tend to a hybrid model.
New work spaces also have to be in line with new wellbeing corporate policies oriented to the recruitment and retention of talent. “Companies are investing in their spaces to improve work environments and increase staff satisfaction” points out Martín López from Ofita.
Without leaving aside the strong demand of the new generations: sustainable offices; comprehensive energy and environmental management, CO2 reduction policies or measurement of the carbon footprint, recycling policies, paperless…
New spaces for nomad employees
The Sales Director of Ofita highlights that the office cannot respond to the new workforce with traditional concepts for the design of the space. “It has to assemble among others the following attributes: flexibility, technology and coworking/collaborative spaces. These are the three premises that will be the basis for the new offices”.
Digital nomads go to the office to collaborate and share with the team. Therefore, it is important to increase the surface of informal, added value and collaboration spaces.
A good approach for the design of offices for digital nomads is non-territoriality. Stations are shared as they are not assigned to one specific person. The use of adjustable chairs contributes to this phenomenon because they adapt to each employee semi-automatically, such as the Hara chair.
To meet the flexibility required by a “passing-by” office used by many employees, it is also necessary to use polyvalent spaces, easily reconfigurable for different uses and numbers of people.
It seems evident, as he says that digital nomads are employees used to working outside the office. “However, we all have the basic need of feeling part of a community and share with others. Therefore, companies have to offer these new professionals, spaces where they can temporarily feel at home”.
An optimal office nowadays has to include individual concentration areas, spaces designed to work occasionally isolated from the noise of open offices. In these spaces, technology has to be perfectly integrated to ease the charge and connection of all sorts or devices and services: make video-calls, send documents to printers, access a rooms, adjust the light, temperature, humidity…The polyvalent use of spaces will multiply the functional value of these areas.
It should also have collaboration areas because it has been proven that if employees have to walk more than 30 meters or move to another floor to communicate with another colleague, he/she will do so by email when immediate control could solve the issue immediately and more efficiently in many cases.
“The promotion and ease of employment flexibility of employees is as important in terms of motivation and flexibility as having all necessary tools and technologies for people to offer the best of themselves in a flexible culture; tools which ease the exchange of knowledge, strategies and experiences, encouraging team spirit and collaboration”.
Agile methodologies in collaborative spaces
In this sense, according to the study “Best way to work” new agile work methodologies represent another turning point in the design of collaborative spaces. New agile processes demand modular spaces close to work spaces which help act rapid and efficiently. “In many companies, collaboration areas are still designed as a room with a “Marshal” and its pupils. There are no adaptable, dynamic and open spaces where each employee can freely unleash its creativity” explains Jonatan Molina, Manager of Ofita Madrid.
On the other hand, when an employee is chained to a work station, their productivity levels reduce considerably. Not to mention losses in terms of motivation, wellbeing and health at workplace. “We all need spaces to disconnect and relax”. These areas are ever more necessary as work centres are promoting physical and emotional health of employees with spaces to practice physical exercise or any activity related to their health.
“The traditional office understands the space just as a work environment and does not pay attention to the physical needs or the optimal performance of employees”.
Learning space and the “office” in the optimal office
Offices today are meeting points. We go to office to socialize and share talent. Therefore, learning spaces are ever more common but of course with designs totally different from traditional training rooms. Firstly, nowadays they are reconfigurable for different methodologies as allowed by the furniture line Forthink.
The study “Best way to work” by Ofita points out also that one weakness of traditional offices was the amount of square meters used for the kitchen office, not used during lunch time.
The idea that the kitchen office was exclusively a space to have lunch has banished in the new office designs. With a more informal interior design and equipment combining different furniture styles, the kitchen office has turned into an ideal space to hold dynamic meetings and adopt more relaxed attitudes. It is also an optimal scenario for individual work in specific moments.
The office is a highly recommended space from the point of view of physical and emotional health of employees. It helps us disconnect, make pauses, move during lunch time, relate with colleagues…
“We see therefore, that the traditional office has its days numbered”. Work methodologies and corporate cultures have changed and with them the needs of employees. This is why they are incorporating new types of spaces. With new horizontal employment models and which boost creativity and intra-entrepreneurship over control and presence of employees at the office, spaces are evolving towards more ludic and social offices” concludes Jonatan Molina.