The traditional imagery of a workplace was always a vision of suits, ties, briefcases and partitioned office areas with air conditioned large rooms with lonely office workers separately doing their duties. The Architecture on the outside of the office block was as dull and uninspiring as the interior design and décor on the inside. Plain white partitions separating white desks from one another and grey suspended ceiling tiles added to the drab and dreary styling. It may have been the fashion and trend for the era, especially in the 1980’s, but the environment was far from inspirational and pleasant. Thankfully, the stereotypical imagery associated with office working has been thrown out of the window and the working environment, thankfully, is now more creative than ever.
The emphasis on open working environments and social interaction has made offices a much more enjoyable place to work. In high rise buildings, large expanses of space with temporary partitioning has been replaced with stylish glass divides or stud walls to create proper separation between areas.
Working areas have become more sociable places with desks often side by side or opposite one another rather than in separate cubicles.
Efforts have also been made to make the workplace a more enjoyable place to be every day and encourage productivity through design and inspirational environments. The trend for industrial styling with a mix of bold colours and ‘friendly’ textures has led to a more relaxed atmosphere in offices around the world. The new age of internet based companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter, and the views and designs they envisaged for their headquarters and offices around the world has led to a rethink in the way workplaces are designed. Their bold uses of colour and materials creates a much friendly environment that is much easier on the eye and more inviting for both employees and visitors to the offices. The focus on productivity and design of the offices led to the inclusion of new genres within offices such as relaxation and ‘chill out’ areas. Filled with soft furnishings, informal furniture such as bean bags and with televisions or games consoles, the relaxation areas are a form of 'time-out’ for the employees, giving them a break from their usual work and increasing the productivity of the workforce.
The styling of these unique appearance offices has started a promising trend, with companies and the office designers they commission putting a little more thought into what their employees would like in the office. They realise that the new friendlier styling and bold colours and environments help to increase the happiness and satisfaction of their workforce, and ultimately increase productivity for the company.
The relaxed imagery of what an office is meant to look like, has also led to many businesses looking elsewhere to house their company. Firms are no longer interested in standard office settings in built up urban areas, they want interesting architecture and design as part of their brand image. Businesses want their company to be seen as a ‘cool’ brand and have taken to accommodating converted buildings such as barns, breweries, refectories and water side stores. The interior styling can be as rugged and industrial as they dare and an interior that appears unfinished or adorned with old machinery, exposed brick walls and sealed concrete floors and stairwells only adds to the appeal. This ensures that potential clients are sure to remember not just the company itself, but are also more likely to remember a business by the different styling of the offices and places they work. A company can make just as much of an impact with a client or potential customer by offering a stylish office or studio for them to view, than the actual appeal of their business offerings.
The refreshing change that has led to the visual and social differences in today’s workplaces not only increases the productivity of a business, but also offers employees and colleagues a nicer, more socially interactive and appealing place to work.
It also points to a very obvious appeal with the workplace of today; that offices are becoming more like home. The less formal surroundings combined with areas to relax, socialise and take a break from your desk is linked to the same type of facilities that someone who works from home could appreciate.
Businesses seem to have realised that people are much more likely to want to spend time in their homes rather than be uncomfortable in a stark poorly styled office environment. By including things such as more comfortable seating areas with softer furnishings for lounging, colourful décor and styling and possibly incorporating facilities such as games consoles or pool tables, it helps to take time out from the monotonous work grind that has become a symbol of city living and urban areas. By feeling more like you are at home, you are more likely to be happy and content with your day and work seems a place to enjoy rather than endure.
Many companies are adamant that this new trend for a more homely work environment is not only the wrong way to run a business, but actively discourage workers from things that will distract them from their work. Many places of work have filters to stop employees searching for certain things on the internet, enforce strict lunchtime hours and limit the amount of time people can take a break from their duties. Ask many of their workers and I’m sure they will tell you their efforts are a bit unnecessary and that it actually decreases morale and productivity considerably. Thankfully the trend for more stylish workplaces and a relaxed atmosphere seems to be catching on considerably and that employers are listening more to the needs of their employees. A trend that is definitely likely to evolve until the definition between the home and the workplace becomes even narrower, benefiting both companies and their workers at the same time.