How we conduct our business has changed to match the technology we have. Where once we had the “cubicle farm” that was thought to be efficient, we now have a new leadership, and a new ideal. These newbies aren’t just asking why we conduct ourselves the way we do, but can we do things better. They are trying new things and are not afraid to try new layouts and designs. On top of all of this, they understand that the happiness of their employees is a direct translation into the productivity and creativity of their business, so they’re striving to taking their suggestions into account when making decisions.
Cubicles are Going out of Style
When you say the word office to most people, they think of the endless rows of dull colored cubicles that were the standard for years. While the intention was to lower the amount of distractions, the result was that employees would feel alone, stuffed in a box away from the rest of the world.
Rather than force employees to conform to a cold standard, modern offices are beginning to feature open layouts that allow employees some choice in their working space, as well as the opportunity for collaboration. With an open layout, people can either find a quiet spot that they can sit and concentrate or they can work in a more relaxed lounge setting.
Employees no longer need a copious amount of space for chucky desktops or landline phones. Whether your coworker is on the other side of the room or the globe, you can now get them that file they need within seconds via email rather than having to run to the cabinets and search through them, hoping they were even put in the correct place.
The Importance of Going Green
Unlike the office buildings of yesteryear that were often stale and lifeless, today’s office is built with the worker in mind. To make these spaces feel more alive and welcoming people have started to bring plants into the otherwise stale and dull space. These plants do more than look pretty, they also help to freshen and clean the air, as well as aid in reducing employee stress.
Working with a Flexible Schedule
Businesses have begun to realize that some of their employees simply aren’t able to do their best work when they’re stuck in the usual workweek schedule of 9-5, Monday to Friday. There are efforts to combat this now, allowing these sort of people something better for themselves. Managers are putting the in times into the hands of the employees, and while many have switched things up a bit, the end result has been that employees come with with more energy, less stress, and feeling overall better. Team members now commonly assigned tasks as well as deadlines and will check in with their leaders on a daily or weekly basis and update them on the progress, but other than that they are flexible to do the work when it makes sense. Some people may be able to wake up when the birds start singing, but others need a bit more rest. This kind of schedule means that deadlines are still met yet the work produced is higher quality.
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Keeping it Casual
Modern business is more focused on results than fashion trends, and there has been a major shift in attitudes in regards to dress codes throughout the new office. Sure, your blue hair was once a sign of a lack of professionalism, but that simply isn’t true anymore, as often this is seen as creativity, and no matter what modern leaders are looking for employees who’ll work hard over ones who look the part of a cubicle goer. Now, there are still standards, but they’ve shifted to match our modern world. Day to day attire has become more relaxed, but when clients or potential partners are brought in for a meeting employees know to greet them while looking their very best.
This is great for employees because they can spend more time thinking about their work and less about if their clothes look alright. People today want to feel comfortable and most people find it a lot easier to focus when they are able to be themselves and not confined.
Adding some Light to the Party
People spend a lot of time at work and, as animals, we were never meant to stay indoors sitting down. One of the biggest complaints that traditional offices suffered from was the lighting, namely the unforgiving fluorescent lights that were an industry standard for decades. Of course, you can’t just get rid of artificial light all together when you work in an office, however you can add more natural light into the room(s). Architects are taking the need for light into account when they design new spaces, accounting for the sun’s angle at various times throughout the year and making windows larger and more pronounced.
This can aid in lowering the amount of depression in workers, especially during the winter months where employees may only be outside at the right time to see the sun for one or two hours. If they can’t get natural light then many places have begun switching from the old tube lights to bulbs which better mimic natural light. These bulbs also help both the environment, and your budget, as they’re designed to use less electricity while also lasting longer.
As business continues to grow and evolve, leaders and designers are coming together to design offices that not only feature the latest in technology but also the latest innovations in green architecture. Along with saving them some money on utilities, they’re able to use these designs to lower their carbon footprint. Some examples might be using solar panels or installing vertical gardens that can act as shade.
Even the furniture is taken into consideration as decorators are utilizing the newest in both sustainable and recycled materials. Seeing as our modern world is losing its need for the old filing cabinets or wooden desks, there’s also been a push for more minimalistic office spaces. Our modern offices resemble friendly lounges far more than the cubicle farms of old.
Providing for a Relaxing Break
It’s common knowledge now that a happy worker is a productive worker, and it’s hard to beat recreation when it comes to making workers happy. Anymore it isn’t uncommon for game consoles or TVs to be present in the office, or at least the break room, to allow employees a chance to relax and break the ice with others. One of the ideas behind this is when employees learn to be more sociable in recreation settings they’ll then become more efficient when they’re working together as a team.
Employers also try to include more health conscious design choices in modern offices, including adding in a gym where they have the space. Healthy workers are much less likely to get sick and thus less likely to get their coworkers sick. Productivity often increases due to the fact that employees are no longer calling out sick on a regular basis. Smaller businesses have been known to partner with local gyms to reap this benefit for themselves, offering free, or at least discounted, memberships in their benefits package.
Giving Better food Options
The new generation of office workers is often very health conscious and very aware of the food they put in their bodies. In our modern times we know that heavy, high fat foods will make people feel sluggish and tired, and modern employers are looking to combat this. Often managers will use the advice their team gives to make their menu, so to speak. Gluten-free and vegan diets have grown in popularity for one reason or another, and thusly they’ve appears more often on menus. Larger places are teaming with real chefs and bringing in high-quality food, and it bears little resemblance to the corporate cafeterias of old. On top of this, rather than go out to get lunch employees are more likely to stay and enjoy the provided food while spending time with their coworkers.
Doors are left open
This is both literal and metaphorical. Unless you were the one approached you never got to speak with your higher ups unless they were directly in charge of you and/or whatever group you were working with at the time. With the new open designs come more open working conditions, and the leadership is now becoming more involved. Collaboration is key in modern industries, and managers are learning to listen to their employees more. Teams are left feeling like they have a say in what happens to them, and that their feelings and opinions matter. They know that they won’t be harmed if they have to speak up about a problem or voice an opinion.
The other side of this is the push for a more open layout in offices that follow this same idea. Unless their in meeting, more and more bosses are leaving their doors open to create a more unified sense of community where the person in charge is no longer looked at as an authority to be feared but as more of a coach and mentor who is there to build their team.
Whether it’s a deadline or just the need to take a few minutes to find your center, we all need to unplug and sit in silence for awhile. Most modern designers have begun to include quiet rooms in their work, allowing individuals or teams to enjoy a quiet, relaxed space to either work or take a break. These rooms are often dimly lit and are meant to evoke a sense of tranquility. While these were once just a novel thought, they’ve become integral in lowering the stress and raising the satisfaction of employees.
Working from Home
Thanks to such things as video calling and high-speed data transfer, today’s office sometimes isn’t a physical place at all and some companies are groups of individuals from around the world who no longer need to meet in the real world in order to do business. We’re now able to hold our meetings and transfer paperwork around all in an instant, just from our phones and computers, without the need of being actually face to face with the other person, all thanks to modern applications like Facetime or Skype. It’s not uncommon for a business to work partially or even fully from the comfort of each team member’s homes.
For those that seek a happy medium, smaller businesses that need regular meeting space or freelancers who need a more structured environment to work in, several places have come up with a solution. You don’t have to get a long term contract to rent a space, now you can do it by the day, even the hour. These places often have many of these modern traits we spoke about earlier. Often there is a range of working environments in these areas, which can include anything from classic, though modernized, cubicles, to wide open areas where everyone can see everyone else. As well, since you’re only paying for the time you use in this space you’ll save some money, and besides, rather than take a potential client or business partner to a coffee shop to talk business you can bring them to a friendly, professional, and modern environment, which probably has at least equally as good coffee.
You can’t stop Office Evolution
While it might be scary to think, we were still using typewriters 30 years ago. As technology continues to change the world, it will continue to change the way we do business. What once was a dim zoo of cubicles is transforming into a beautiful space with a wall of windows to light up and warm the workers that are enjoying some freshly brewed, artisan coffee.
While the layout will change, the basic idea of a place for people to come together, share ideas and collaborate will not. From the Sears Tower in Chicago to spaces that you can rent for an hour to meet with clients, the spaces that we do business in are as diverse as the kind of business we do.