Will Your New Workplace Design Stand the Test of Time?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on June 13, 2018

It’s the million-dollar question for workplace leaders:

How do you plan an office environment that can adapt to keep up with the evolving needs of the workforce, but will also stand the test of time?

New buildings are planned years in advance and built to last for decades. Yet the workforce is always changing. And technology often becomes obsolete within a few years, if not sooner.

Website designers use responsive design to ensure the elements they create will accommodate any device. Workplace leaders should take a similar approach to designing space so it can accommodate future needs, whatever they may be.

Here are a few tips for planning a workplace design that stands the test of time.

Adapt A Workplace Design That Encourages Flexibility

Some employees need more privacy and quiet to do their best work, while others are inspired by a more stimulating, collaborative setting. A good workplace design offers both. An activity-based working environment offers open spaces for collaboration and quiet spaces. Employees should be able to move easily from one environment to another based on the type of work they’re doing.

Creating a workplace design that encourages activity-based working involves more than knocking down a few walls. You’ll need to make sure the technology your workforce uses is mobile and that employees have an easy way to plug in wherever they go. Adding infrastructure that allows wireless charging will help you avoid a tangled web of cords.

Use Data To Drive Workplace Design

You may think you know how employees use the workplace just by observing them, but space utilization data tells a more complete story.

If you use an integrated workplace management system that includes space management and room reservation software, you should be able to get a clear picture of which spaces are in high demand and which ones are underutilized. Consider what makes certain spaces so popular. It’s likely a combination of their size, location, technology setup and aesthetics. Use these insights as you plan future spaces.

Consider Adding Occupancy Sensors

More organizations are using occupancy sensors to gather space management data, reduce building maintenance costs and improve energy management. These sensors should be installed in places where they will be as unobtrusive as possible. They’ll also need to be connected to a wireless or wired network.

If your workplace wants to get serious about managing your space in the future, this may be something to consider as you plan your workplace design.

Ask Employees For Input

There are some things no amount of data will tell you—like the fact that employees avoid a certain meeting room because the paint color is a nausea-inducing shade of green. Or the walls are so thin they can clearly hear every noisy lunchtime conversation.

That’s why it’s so important to ask for input. Ask in employee surveys. Dedicate some time to discuss workplace design at the next management meeting. Join that noisy lunchtime conversation where most employees will be eager to tell you how they really feel.

Test New Workplace Design Concepts

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, the motto of motivational sales director Blake is ABC: Always Be Closing. As a workplace leader, your motto should be ABT: Always Be Testing.

You can test everything from furniture to lighting fixtures, implementing it in small areas first before rolling it out everywhere.

Continue to gather input as you add new elements.

Creating A Future-Proof Workplace Design

A workplace design that will stand the test of time needs to be built with the future in mind. It needs to encourage flexibility. And it needs to be based on both data and feedback from your workforce.

Your workplace design serves as the backbone of your workplace strategy, which impacts productivity and the employee experience. Many companies tell us they want to adopt a new workplace strategy (such as activity-based working), but they don’t know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a webinar to learn from Current by GE about the infrastructure used in a smart office, as well as ways to get started down the path to create the digital workplace. We hope you can join us June 19.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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