How is office design of today changing – and where will it be tomorrow? | Oaktree Interiors

The office is a constantly evolving place; from the desk setups determined by hierarchy, the cubicle farms of the 1980's to the more recent open plan spaces. Every change in office design has been done alongside the need to meet ongoing developments in technology, as the usage of pen and paper made way for the typewriter, which itself was replaced by the personal computer. But where next? How is the office of today changing, and where will it be tomorrow?

The future of office design

The space available

The shape of the office has been reconfigured throughout the last century and a half; from long, orderly desk setups to work spaces that are divided. Noticing that such setups were of determent to collaborative working,office designers created the concept of the 'open office' that brings down the barriers that segregate workers.

In more recent years, many businesses have adopted an open office design that embraces 'hot desking'; the practice of doing away with 'one desk for one worker', instead creating a flexible set-up that sees workers use a particular desk for a particular task. For example, they may need to work alongside someone in a different department to complete a task, collaborating with them. Sometimes they may need to sit down to do their work or they work better whilst standing up. On other occasions, they may need the solitude and quiet to get on with their work without distraction. Today's plug-and-play and wireless internet connectivity make it easy and simple to do.

The future of workplace design is set to build on these flexible arrangements, as innovations in tech continue to make it easier for us to work with a sense of versatility and agility. Technology will be built into the walls and even the furniture of the office including wireless charging points, screens and digital whiteboards that are able to connect to workers'devices whenever required.

The infrastructure of the office will grow smarter too; the continued innovation of the internet will lead to automated systems that are able to optimise how space, lighting, heating and other resources in the workplace are used. Not only will this help a business to cut down on their energy costs but it will go a long way to help them to meet its environmental requirements too.

Much of the space will also be given over to areas designed to help manage the health and wellbeing of employees. Whilst the prospect of games rooms and bars aren't the right fit for every businesses' corporate culture, in order to get the best out of their workers, all businesses must think about the effect that their office interiors have on their employees. Introducing more green spaces, plants and natural light will be a great start; they are widely seen as being beneficial for happiness and productivity.

A social and meeting space

In a traditional office design, there have been two types of areas in which the workers get together; the formal spaces (such as dedicated meeting rooms and boardrooms) for serious discussion, and informal spaces (such as kitchens and cafeterias), for chit-chat and bonding.

The popular office designs of today are already blurring the lines between the two, with dedicated areas given over solely for informal meeting or teamwork spaces. In the future, you should expect more ad-hoc social spaces to appear the office; with technology and the internet growing in its influence, they will collect data to understand how employees use the building,with the findings helping the business to create even more opportunities for collaboration.

Most companies will also be looking for ways to combine the increasing trend of remote and home working, with the need to collaborate with their office-based colleagues. Large-screen displays, virtual reality headsets and even holographic displays may well become the 'new normal' in the next decade or two.

Technology

Speaking of which, the technology in the average office has also vastly changed within the last few decades. Once, filing cabinets and whole rooms would be given over to the storage of data, today, it all can be kept on a single device or virtual storage. In fact, it can be said that the biggest changes in our workplaces have been in the tech we use; the evolution of the desktop PC, the internet, networking and e-mail have transformed the way we communicate, enabling shifts in the way an office is designed.

We're already seeing moves away from stationary desktop PC set-ups to the usage of laptops and tablet devices that provide flexibility and the means for employees to move about the office as they wish. This 'agile working' is better suited to providing staff with all of the productivity, communication options and information they need. So expect the average office design to be agile within the next few years.

In the future, it isn't a great stretch to predict that further developments in computing, with increased processing power and flexibility, will continue to impact the way our workplaces are designed. Upcoming innovations will include improved voice, face and speech recognition,with workers in every industry using more intelligent and cognitive systems,such as AI, to complete their tasks.

Services & Infrastructure

The development of the office has seen a massive growth in bureaucracy and paperwork, requiring the infrastructure to support them.Ongoing advancements of the desktop PC throughout the last few decades has transformed the way we handle data, with networks and servers enabling businesses to store and share information with their clients more effectively,creating an easy-to-use service.

In recent years, the innovation of cloud storage has removed the restrictions that tied information to a single location, or even a single device. Information is able to flow from place to place and from device to device, bound only by security protocols and the permissions put in place by the business.

This cloud storage trend will not abate anytime soon. With more intelligent personal assistants and tools being developed, they will not only find data as and when we need it, but they'll also take a more proactive approach, pushing relevant information our way that can help us in our current business tasks. Meanwhile, the innovation of applications designed for collaboration will transform the way we currently work together, creating a seamless workflow regardless if we're in the office, on the move or working from home.

Futureproof your office design, with Oaktree Interiors

If you've been thinking about improving your own office design to allow it to meet whatever changes the future brings, then the expert team here at Oaktree Interiors can help you to realise your ideal workplace.

Having been working in the industry for over three decades,our team constantly make a point of placing innovation at the heart of the offices we create; it's a major reason why we have established such along-running business. Why not take a look at our extensive portfolio to see some of our recent projects, designed with the future in mind?

If you would like to learn more about how you can futureproof your office space, please feel free to get in touch with us today.You can call us on 0345 21 86955 or you can send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com

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