In today's world where we see a startup getting born every day in India, those who are in business or marketing understand that any organization is far beyond the product it creates or services it sells: The loyalists (whether they are clients or employees) want the experience & culture that the company embodies. And yet, while designing office spaces, the discussion slides farther away from the company's culture towards the basic and static interiors and space planning aspects. The point of discussion here is - it's not only the fancy looking colorful office or a ping pong table in the center that pulls in and retains clients and particularly employees but it's the culture of any organization and hence a space plan which radiates that culture bonds the people in above two categories to organization, alike.
During the Design & Execution of offices for Unicorns like BharatPe, and big startups like IndWealth, Addverb, Yaantra, and more, the close interactions with the founders during the nascent stages of developing the blueprints & prototypes, have revealed that there are certain key areas that a Founder of this millennia looks forward to his/her team and every design & built firm should take in consideration while designing an office whether for a startup or a traditional business.
1. Design Should Complement The Most Important Asset Of An Organization- `It's Employees':
The way ever more specialized work is carried out today with rapidly evolving technology, how companies utilize their employees and take out productivity is becoming an impertinent part of an overall process which in-turn helps companies to scale and retain people. Today, employees expect to have more independence & autonomy to let their actual self-come out at work. The workplace or an office where they spend of their day (or even more in some cases) should be designed to support and embrace this need. An Important part of the job for interior designers and/or workplace strategists is to help figure out the needs of those permission sets and how that works with the way we design things?
How does the designing of the space in hand allow enough flexibility and give them a boundary-less environment and capability to do those things? When creating a blueprint or mood board of how an office should be designed or arranged, it's important to think of differences in generations as much as providing the best possible space-including a bit of freedom-to allow employees to work their best. A good lesson that must be learned as early as possible is- "the return on investing in employees and providing them with what they need to do their best work outweighs the other investments and what's saved from keeping an obstacle course of checks and balances in their way" and a well-balanced and designed office not only keep employees engaged in work but also motivates them to come to the office every morning.
2. Status Via Corner Office Isn't As Important:
The office space does not circle the systems; it is less about structure; it is about the people and human-centered.
Culture is a wonderful word used to describe what people desire from their workplace. At a bird's eye view, the office is a microcosm of individuals working with their own set of skills, where status becomes less important-a trend noticed across organizations that are turning into unicorns. It has been observed that the office area is no longer directly proportional to status or structure in the way we assign space. Today it (office space) tries to create a great experience and, along with that, makes sure that we understand what people need to do to perform at their peak.
Once upon a time, a private office was a status symbol, but now, the lines are blurring, and companies are inclined towards having open spaces and giving away the `cabin culture' A big part of this evolution in mindset also involves how technology has changed where work can happen. As a whole, companies have less use for their office space-so why do companies have offices to begin with? `The workplace has become almost like the bonfire that people gather around'.
Increasingly, there's been this movement to bring people back into an office to have some kind of central landing point because organizations are citing community as their goal and the word community has as much importance as culture. Organizations these days want people to rally around something in the organization, and they want them to have that human contact with the office becoming more of a landing pad for their increasingly mobile employees and hence importance of space as a community center increases, decreasing the importance of the corner office as a status symbol.
3. The Question Isn't Of An `Open Office Space Or Closed' Anymore:
Many of the clichés used to discuss changes in the office place - `sitting is the new smoking', `open office vs. closed'-come from outside the design industry. While clients may consider them when discussing their office layout, it's up to designers to understand what the employees in discussion truly need. As designers and workplace strategists, it's important to find solutions to a client's needs--solutions that may differ from what they've been told are correct.
Particularly as offices continue towards becoming community centers for diverse employees with a wide list of differing individual needs, the answer for designers won't be found in a one-size-fits-all solution. We need to offer a choice. It's not an open-plan versus private office because the reality is, you do need both. Design is about finding what's right for a place to embrace the organization's cultural temperature. Understanding an organization throws that competency right back to interior designers that design is about people first and at the second it's about the place.
Today, employees expect to have more independence & autonomy to let their actual self-come out at work
4. Adapting To `The New Normal':
The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the office culture to revive and survive; office spaces are looking at a pretty drastic alteration of layouts and design, while there is a soaring culture of open desks and more accessible areas, offices in the `new normal' will also see some reversal. Earlier access to natural light and plants were accepted as tools that enhanced wellbeing and productivity, but now access to natural air and ventilation has now become a big necessity post-COVID-19. It has evolved to the point that employers would use healthcare facilities to guide their reimagined workspaces by installing more touch-less fixtures (door sensors, automatic sinks, soap dispensers, voice-activated elevator) banks) and building with more durable materials that could stand up to frequent deep-cleaning.
But as we learned more about COVID-19s airborne transmission, building developers have become more focused on creating better ventilation systems for indoor spaces. The demand for leases has increased in the buildings that have ample natural lighting and access to the outdoors, such as private gardens or balconies where workers can spread out. This is an exciting opportunity, and if companies really take a moment and invest in research to understand where their employees have been more productive or satisfied and have found meaning in what they do, they can tailor-make these options moving forward to strengthen their business and culture. Instead of paying attention to the trends everyone else is doing, look for opportunities to make a custom solution and have more of an impact on your organization.