The office of the future – bye, bye fixed workstation
A laptop, a coffee cup, an inspiring environment – that describes where many employees would prefer to be. More and more people are choosing home offices and cafés over single workstations in the office – so that they can give free rein to their creativity. Does that mean offices are in danger of vanishing? Of course not, but it is inevitable that we adapt to new forms of working if we are to bring the workforce back together under one roof.
The workplace is changing faster and more significantly nowadays than ever before. Above all this applies to the way in which we work. We spend all our time alternating between focused computer-based work, communicative exchange and project work or meetings. If you consider these activities, there are four principal requirements: concentration, retreat, communication and cooperation.
Concentration in the office of the future
In my opinion the first factor, concentration, is especially crucial in order to achieve high-quality results, as well as to ensure the productivity of each and every employee in the company. But unfortunately the matter of concentrated working is generally more difficult than was first thought: the brief negotiation with colleagues in the next room, the phone call to your neighbour’s desk or a quick question from time to time – scenarios like this prevent you from building up a focused attentiveness. The activity you thought you could complete quickly takes longer than originally planned, other work piles up and at worst is left unfinished. But health-related factors can also mess up the rigid office schedule, for instance when back pain makes it difficult or even impossible to sit for hours on end.
You’ve spotted it: the widespread office formats – open floor plan, group office or cellular office (20-40 people, 3-10 people, 1-3 people) – already prove inadequate for the first of the four office activities. However with an intelligent working environment it is possible to find individual solutions to a variety of needs, thereby taking a huge step in the direction of the office of the future. For example separated areas, quiet zones or individual rooms can be used to create a low-noise working environment for concentration. Ideally these are furnished with ergonomic chairs that promote dynamic sitting so that back pain doesn’t stand a chance.
Retreat in the office of the future
But the aspect of retreat is also essential if you want to make good progress in your job. If you are starting off new projects, reading demanding texts, making discreet phone calls or just working creatively in a relaxed, stress-free position, you need more than just a fixed workstation. Changing your environment – and in particular changing what you sit on – can lead to an enormous improvement. Well-known industry giants such as Twitter, Philips and Sony are leading the way, but an intelligent working environment is no longer just a vision of the future for medium-sized companies either. Here, the employees benefit from a wide variety of seating and diverse retreat areas. For this application in particular, we at Klöber have developed “Concept C”, a range of armchairs, sofas and chairs that can be combined individually depending on requirements. The Concept C high-back sofas, for instance, can be used to zone off areas both aesthetically and acoustically, whilst at the same time promoting comfortable sitting in an upright position.
Communication in the office of the future
Do you also have moments in which you value input from your colleagues? Or maybe there are times when you aren’t getting anywhere by yourself? A little inspiration never hurt anyone. It’s just the same for me. A modern working environment should also factor in the communication aspect and make it possible for employees to chat informally with one another. There must be nicer places than the staff kitchen, or a meeting room that has been repurposed as a break area. Intelligent working environments offer places for concentration and retreat, but also space for organised meeting points around the company. Employees from different departments can meet one another at designated intersection points, enjoy their breaks together and thus use the time for informal chats in a relaxed atmosphere.
Cooperation in the office of the future
If the spontaneous ideas discussed in the break subsequently develop into actual projects, space for cooperation is then required as well. One problem with many established offices is that the rooms have outdated planning standards. Whilst project-based, interdepartmental working methods are on the increase, many employees are complaining about the lack of meeting room capacity. The result of this is that the workers’ productivity suffers.
However there are yet more factors that are critical when it comes to ensuring that interdepartmental projects are a success: acoustically screened conference rooms, team and workshop areas and training rooms with state-of-the-art presentation technology should be mentioned at this point, as should ergonomics. Ergonomics is the sine qua non – especially in meetings that may last several hours. For example our product range includes a special office/conference chair, the “ConWork”, to make sure that people benefit from healthy sitting in meetings, too. This chair features an automatic mechanism that sets the chair correctly to the sitter’s body size and weight without any manual intervention. They might be tall, short, heavy or light: the chair adjusts to suit all users without a fuss, supporting every sitter in a comfortable and dynamic position.
The “ConWork” office and conference chair adjusts automatically to suit every user © Klöber
Conclusion – The office of the future
So as you have seen: varying requirements in the office call for different room concepts. Concentration, retreat, communication and cooperation cannot be controlled from a fixed desk without making some compromises. If you want to avoid restrictions in your own office routine and that of your colleagues, it is essential to create an intelligent working environment. To achieve this, intelligent seating solutions must surely rank amongst the most important factors.