Do new office layouts represent a shift in business priorities?

September 26th, 2014 Category: Commercial

Major corporations in the UK are pioneering new office designs to reflect new ways of working, it has been reported.

A report which appeared in the Guardian revealed that the traditional office desk will soon be replaced by more innovative designs, thanks to big companies such as Google, the BBC and Apple.

One of those new designs included a 71 hectare (176 acre) campus with an enormous O-shaped building for 13,000 employees at its heart.

The late Steve Jobs described it as "the best office building in the world". So what was the idea behind this new design?

It was one, which pioneers believed, would encourage greater collaboration between staff members.

Workers would also be able to walk around the campus, and connect to it, in much the same way that students do in a university building.

The whole idea behind all of these new concepts and groundbreaking architecture, acccording to the Guardian report, is that employees would then have to interact with each other more.

This in a sense, represents the traditional death of the isolated, workplace desk, where workers just kept their heads down and worked independently on projects.

Instead, this new concept encourages more teamwork and cooperative ways of working. 

New developments like these really serve to show the importance of the office environment when it comes to the workplace.

The office is no longer seen as just a base to work in. Instead it represents the idea that the office is an important part of an organisation's fabric.

In that sense, it represents the aims and objectives of the company, and most importantly, their ideals.

Simon Allford, a director of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM),told the Guardian that the approach to office architecture has changed a great deal in the last ten years.

He added: "The journey is actually seen as beneficial because as people are working in different ways, you are not expecting them to be only working in one place, therefore work is a kind of continuous activity and you are always thinking."

The newspaper also highlighted the recent changes made to the BBC's headquarters. The broadcaster has large office units, similar to American diner booths. The building also has large social areas, encouraging staff to interact with each other more.

It is one of the latest in a long line of firms that are starting to adopt this open-plan, open-space approach.

Philip Tidd, spokesman for the design and architecture firm Gensler, told the Guardian: "The idea that the desk is a unit of productivity is changing very, very rapidly. Your productivity is not measured by the amount of time you sit behind a thing called a desk. It is what you do. It is about your output," he said. "It is about getting the balance of specs right so it is not just get everybody in the open, have open plan but have the right balance of spaces where you can get in a zone of concentration."

The links between office design and productivity is not a new one. Only recently, the World Green Building Council highlighted the link between a building with plenty of sunlight, and ventilation can boost productivity by as much as 11 per cent.