How Technology Has Affected Workplace Design


by David Jenkins

For decades most offices were basic brick and mortars with cubicles, white wall executive offices and fluorescent-lit conference and meeting rooms, with copiers and printers sprinkled in. Workplace design remained relatively status quo until technology revolutionized the way we work and do business, giving way to more creative work environments that stimulate productivity.

Mobile communications, emails, conference calls, web-based education, digital files, and electronic research has rendered many traditional office space elements as irrelevant, spurring a movement toward a modern office design that incorporates technology in day-to-day dealings. Here is a looksee at some of the top technology trends influencing workplace design.

Less Desk Time—Smaller Desk Space

According to Gartner Group, workers typically spend just 40 percent of their time at their desks as most offices have gone wireless. And because desk space is expensive real estate, companies are reconfiguring individual employee space into smaller footprints, while expanding shared space such as meeting areas.

Real Time—High-Tech Meeting Rooms

High-speed and fully-integrated audio-visual technology has replaced many in-person meetings that can be costly especially if it involves participant travel. Now, conference rooms are jacked up with the latest and greatest meeting technology that facilitates a real-time virtual experience that is secure, flexible and allows for easy digital information sharing.

Younger Workforce—Open Layout

The workforce is getting younger as Millennials—representing more than 74 million—enter the job market. It has been estimated that by 2020, Millennials will account for 46 percent of U.S. workers. This cohort is characterized by being exceptionally technology savvy with an inherent need to engage and collaborate using their devices. As such, employers are switching up their office designs to incorporate open layouts and lower dividing walls that encourage engagement and innovation.

Mobility—Flexible Workspace

Smartphones, laptops and tablets can connect workers with their colleagues and customers from anywhere in the building—creating a tremendous amount of flexibility for employees.  Employers have taken note and are creating flexible communal work areas where employees can have a brainstorming session or do independent work away from the hustle and bustle, while always being connected to network. This flex space often times replicates a cool lounge atmosphere designed to relax and encourage creativity.

Health and Wellness—Centralized Services

Health is a growing concern, and employers are seeking ways to encourage healthier living through sustainable design elements. This may include sit-stand furniture or centralizing shared services like copiers, printing and beverage stands to encourage employees to get up from their workstations. Some employers may also offer fitness and recreational rooms.

Telecommuting—Desk Sharing

Technology advances make telecommuting a sensible option for many employers. To accommodate for fewer on-site staff, workplace designs incorporate strategies such as desk sharing or free desking, essentially unassigned workstations that support individual work when a remote employee is on-site.

 

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David Jenkins is Vice President, Capital Project Manager Washington, DC.  Mr. Jenkins is responsible for providing all capital project implementation for all new acquisitions and existing assets, in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Ohio. His responsibilities include managing all aspects of building repositioning, development and large scale tenant build-outs.