The modern office is much more than just someplace to park employees and put them to work. Methods of organisation and management have evolved through the years. Work teams, even cross-discipline work teams have replaced the individual as the focus for creativity and productivity in the workplace. This means providing those teams with an office design which increases communication and encourages collaboration.
At the same time, we live in a constantly changing business environment. Therefore, our workspace design must be agile, adaptable to changing needs. Office partitions are excellent for this, as they can be quickly adjusted to meet changing business needs, creating workstation cubicles and collaborative spaces to meet the team’s needs.
Building a dynamic, modern workspace that meets these needs has to start with understanding just what the work team’s needs are. There is no cookie cutter answer, which will work for all situations. While the open plan office allows for this sort of customisation, it is how room dividers and other architectural elements are used, which turns the space into something that encourages creativity and collaboration.
Any modern office design should start out with collaborative spaces, where team members can gather together to brainstorm, share ideas, work through problems and participate together on parts of the project which require multiple hands or minds. We’re not talking about the conference room of yesteryear here, which stifles creativity and forces people into a formal mode of thinking and operating. Rather, we’re talking about a more free-form work area, where people can be comfortable as they interact with each other.
One way of creating such a space is to use office dividers to create individual workstations around the perimeter of the open plan office space, leaving the center of the area clear. This central area then becomes the collaborative work space, with chairs, tables, mobile whiteboards and access to technology that the group might need in their collaborative efforts. If the available space is not large enough to accommodate a collaborative space in the middle, it can be placed to one side of the work area. Having windows in this area can contribute to helping people think outside the box.
- Increases communications and creativity
- Help teams to work together
While collaborative work is key to creativity and efficiency, individual workstation cubicles are still needed, offering people a place to work alone on their individual tasks. Collocating these workstation cubicles with the collaborative space provides a smooth flow back and forth between the two areas, as needed. This can be easily accomplished when the collaborative space is in the midst of the workstations, using an office partition to separate one workstation from the next.
Providing people with an area that they consider their own encourages the idea of ownership in the team’s work or project. Nobody wants to be the person who is relegated to working on a table in the break room, because there aren’t enough workstations available. The modern workspace must provide individual work areas for all team members.
- Ownership in the team and process
- Efficient work area for each team member
There will always be times when individuals need some private time to think. Times when a workstation cubicle may not be enough. For those times, it’s important that the modern workspace include areas where team members can get the quiet they need to have, in order to think. This means areas which are enclosed by more than room dividers or office screens. Enclosed glass workspaces work well for this, as they provide privacy and quiet, while allowing others to see where the missing team member is and signal them if they are needed.
- Greater concentration when needed
- Quiet areas to foster thinking
Access to Technology
The modern workplace is technology driven. Everything we do involves technology in some way or another, as more and more business operations are becoming automated. But automation isn’t the only way that technology is affecting workspace design. Many technologies, like virtual reality, are being integrated into the workplace, in an effort to provide designers and engineers with a more realistic view of their designs, allowing them to foresee problems and design solutions to them, before the prototyping stage.
Technology helps teams in other ways, such as improving communications and tracking of project milestones. While not a part of the modern office design, the technology that will be used by the working group needs to be considered, to provide adequate space and access to that technology.
- Greater team efficiency
- Faster, more thorough formal communications
Integrating nature, in the form of plants, into the modern workspace can help to increase efficiency, through helping workers deal with the stress of the job. Occasionally replacing office partitions with a wall of plants or adding potted plants into common areas helps create a more relaxing environment, while also helping to clean the air. This Biophilic Design is becoming more and more important for the ‘wellness’ of employees and helping attract and retain the best talent.
- More relaxed, stress-free work area
- Cleaner air
One of the really great things about office partitions is the ability to customise them to being more than just walls. Those partitions can hold client project boards, whiteboards, idea boards and data walls becoming part of the collaborative effort. Posting key information about the project and the customer on office dividers allows team members ready access to that information and helps keep team members on track with the project. This turns any office partition into more than just a space divider, increasing the efficiency of the workspace itself.
- Keep the vision and focus before the team
- Provide convenient areas for mini-brainstorming sessions
With how fast the business climate can change, having an adaptable workspace is essential. Working from an open plan office and using office partitions to configure the space for specific projects or teams keeps your company flexile, with the ability to reconfigure as needed to meet day-to-day business changes. A company’s ability to adapt quickly to a changing reality is essential in today’s fast-paced global market. Creating adaptable space is only one part of this, albeit an important part; one which makes it easier for other parts of your operation to adapt.
- React quickly and easily to changing bushiness climate
- Keeps the company flexible, to meet new challenges