The office is a home away from home to many. Not only is it the place where we work but where we eat, meet, and socialize as well. Office spaces around the world are becoming much more than a 9-5 arrangement as the transition between work-life and home-life becomes more fluid.
From open-concept to cubicles to private offices and back to open concept, office design has done the rounds. Motives that dictate office form have included attempts to increase productivity, establish or eliminate hierarchies, and reduce construction costs. Although controversial, in recent years open-concept design has come back in full swing. We are now designing hybrid floor plans with open-concept work areas being paired with numerous private hoteling/flex spaces. CSV recently worked with Kinaxis IT’s Kanata office on a renovation to their existing space where three private call rooms double as small meeting areas or breakout rooms. Private phone calls can be made, meetings can be taken offline and distractions are significantly cut down for times when concentration is required. This hybrid model provides the best of both worlds with ample public and private areas available to work.
No office is complete without proper meeting areas. In some office environments, meeting rooms are reserved for formal meetings between management and clients. CUPE Ottawa staff have frequent confidential interactions with their clients and so, along with private offices, CSV designed them enclosed meeting spaces with a high level of privacy. In other offices, meeting areas are where work is sprawled out and discussed internally and where, when work is not taking place, there are opportunities for socializing and bonding with teammates. CSV took this very different approach in designing the Lixar IT offices where virtually all common spaces are used as informal meeting areas. From the large harvest table flanked by benches in the kitchen / bar area to the pods of Adirondack chairs to the fishbowl-style breakout rooms and foosball area, there is no shortage of space for both brainstorming and de-stressing.
Both casual and more formal eating areas are popular. Some offices opt for eat-in kitchens, while other offices maximize their space by using meeting areas as dining spaces. Food brings people together which is why kitchens and dining areas are often considered the hub of the home. Employers are recognizing that this is true in office environments as well and are placing more value on well-designed eating areas. The kitchen and bar at Lixar IT, complete with kegs that never run dry, have proven too be a hit, particularly because in this case, late nights at the office are the norm.
Office design is more than aesthetics. It sculpts the way people work and interact with each other. It contributes to one’s overall health, both mental and physical. What will your workplace do for you?