We were lucky enough to sit down with Sarah, a New York based specialist in workplace strategy, to get her thoughts on what the workplace of the future might look like.
Sarah’s role is to liaise with organisations to decide what work environment would be most appropriate for them. “We facilitate the design process, get them ready for the new environment and settle them in,” she says.
Thanks to her role, Sarah is uniquely placed to shine some light on the commercial design trends that are reshaping today’s corporate world.
1. Significance of material choice
“In the States, they are still quite attached to mahogany, gold, and marble – materials that have a lot of symbolism in some markets,” says Sarah. “Increasingly, however, companies are moving toward material choices which better reflect the culture of their organisation.”
Examples include financial institutions opting to use glass as a symbol of transparency in what they do, and non-profit brands going for re-used and repurposed materials.
“You’ve got go choose your materials based on who you are – polished concrete is not for everyone!”
“When it comes to interior design, organisations are changing rapidly,” says Sarah. “You used to need to design/build something that lasted for ten years; now, certain areas will change as the market changes, and as projects go online and offline. The design solution needs to be really flexible, modular and inexpensive.”
More domestic-driven manufacturers like IKEA and West Elm are entering the professional work environment and experimenting with sit/stand desks, etc. – because ultimately, being flexible is much more cost effective.
As more people are moving to open plan offices and multi-functional spaces, customisation becomes important.
“With spaces like open plan ones, we are asking people to remove personalisation,” says Sarah. “Customisation comes into play to bring either a sense of team or an expression of the individual back into the environment.”
That means we’re seeing a lot more of pin-boards, writeable walls and other materials that allow you to walk into a space and know what the team does and what they are working on collaboratively. “That’s really the whole purpose of an open environment – sharing more and collaborating,” says Sarah.
4. Living and breathing the company mission
“Organisations that do this well can bring their brand to life in the physical experiences they create,” says Sarah, “and that’s the best way to attract talent and excite someone about working for your company.”
For too many businesses, there is a disconnect between the brand and the employees doing their jobs. “People want to see that the organisation aligns with their personal values and see that expressed in physical space,” says Sarah.
One amazing example is the Etsy office in Brooklyn, where the creative brand has incorporated an open lab space to facilitate people making crafts, and even have puppy pens so that employees can bring their dogs to work!
One thing’s clear – office spaces are getting more exciting, and there’s plenty to look forward to. If you like the idea of a career designing commercial spaces, get started with Martin’s Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration (MSF50213). Call our team on 1300 762 129 or contact us here.
Image credit: Etsy