Office design: How not to choose fads over functionality

New-age workplaces are radically changing and replacing the cookie-cutter mould that had defined conventional office design so far.

Businesses are increasingly realising the significance of investing in workplace design, and the impact it has on productivity. With the offices of tech giants, such as Google and Apple, being used as mood boards the world over, designers are trying to recreate similar “cool” work environments. However, there’s always the risk of playing on gimmick and letting form override functionality.


In the last few years, there has been a visible shift away from a concentrated cluster of workstations to less formal areas that let individuals choose where and how they work. “The shift towards sit to stand workstations has been pretty profound,” says Oliver Baxter, insights programme manager at American brand Herman Miller. “There’s also a demand for simpler task seating, more non-task multi-application seating supporting many different working environments, as well as interior space division through furniture, not walls.”

This transition from formal to informal set-up is a reflection of the way we work now with boundaries between, work, live and play blurring. More activity-based working areas are being incorporated into the design scheme, which feature a combination of open, private, team and break-out spaces. People can choose where and how they work depending on the task and their preference, leading to higher productivity. The Cocoon Lounge by Boss Design (pictured, left), for instance, provides an informal setting for both, break-out sessions, as well as solo ideation.

It is being expected that most employees will no longer need to have assigned desks, and there will be alternatively, a greater focus on the work environment. Requirments such as personal storage will lead to centralised locker systems.

Award-winning interior architect, Sneha Divias, says: “With the workplace evolving, creating dynamic and flexible spaces is becoming ever important. We see an increase in interchangeable workplaces which will support different ways of working collaboratively that impact the office layout.”

Landscrapers is a new term coined to describe the new office spaces of companies such as Apple and Amazon. The campus-like workspaces of these companies span over massive areas, rather than skyscrapers which tend to spatially alienate departments and limit collaboration.

In keeping with the innovative mandate of most companies today, this creates a greater sense of community and emphasises company culture. However, this trend may not work in densely populated cities where space is at a premium.

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