Search Results for: office design

The open plan remains an important office design element

office designFor half a century the default office design model in large parts of the world has been the open plan. Even though that continues to be the case, a growing number of voices are questioning this hegemony and suggesting there may be better ways of designing offices that balance the advantages of the open plan while eliminating or mitigating drawbacks. On the face of it, the case for working in open plan offices is clear cut. Not only are they believed to be more conducive to collaborative work, open plan workstations take up around half the space of cellular offices. As well as taking up less space, a crucial consideration is that fit-out costs are typically around 25 per cent lower, even in eye wateringly expensive commercial property hotspots such as London.

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Ballpools, swings and slides don’t make office design cool, they make it childish

Ceci n'est pas un bureau“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” I don’t believe this famous quote from the poet Robert Frost  is particularly true but it appears to be an assumption that certain people make when it comes to creating those lists of office design that they describe as fun, trendy, cool or quirky or some other inappropriate, tired adjective. Invariably these offices feature such decidedly uncool and untrendy things as slides, swings and treehouses. One of the latest examples of this kind of thing is to be found on the BBC website with a number of pictures submitted by the sorts of adults who are not ashamed to claim that their idea of fun at work is apparently a meeting in a ballpool or on a swing. Of course, they don’t really think that, except in a work context. I’d bet they can easily walk past the ballpool at Ikea without feeling the need to dive in as an alternative to picking out a sofa.

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We’ve long had ‘overwhelming evidence’ for the link between office design and productivity

office designPerhaps the most widely reported news from the world of workplace over the last couple of weeks has been the analysis from the World Green Building Council that links office design with productivity and wellness. And the two words from the report that have featured most commonly in the associated stories’ headlines have been ‘overwhelming evidence’. While this has been repeated as if it’s some kind of revelation, the truth is that we have had compelling and overwhelming evidence for many years, and barely a year goes past without some study or other making the same point in no uncertain terms. Each report merely serves to raise a more interesting question; given the sheer body of work linking the workplace with productivity (and happiness and motivation and so on), why does the argument still need to be made?

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‘Overwhelming evidence’ of link between office design, productivity and wellness claims report

office designA new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims it has “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff. Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building reports on a range of factors – from air quality and lighting, to views of nature and interior layout – can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers. Understanding the link between workers and their workplace helps to drive the business case for higher quality, healthy and greener buildings, valued by investors, developers and tenants alike. With salaries and benefits typically responsible for 90 percent of an organization’s expenditure, any higher construction or occupation costs are far outweighed by even small improvements in staff performance.

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A vision of office design that is the exact opposite of all it claims to be

Outstanding Landscape of Affordances 3The currently voguish idea that ‘sitting kills’ finds an interesting interpretation in this conceptual office design by Dutch architects RAAAF and the artist Barbra Visser. Designed with the good intentions of encouraging movement, the hellish outcome has the aesthetics of a stealth bomber crossed with an underpass in Peterborough reimagined by MC Escher, the functionality and appeal of a Snowdonian potholing weekend and is populated by 21st Century hipsters and band members of Kraftwerk. This is the Outstanding Landscape of Affordances, commissioned by the Netherlands’ Chief Government Architect and set to become a real installation in Amsterdam next year. To be fair, the blurb does describe the idea as ‘a first step towards a future in which standing at work is the new norm’, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore its catastrophic shortcomings, even as a talking point.

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Workplace wellbeing increasingly incorporated into office design

Wellbeing considerations being incorporated into workplace designMore UK companies are proactively designing their workspaces with wellbeing in mind as the health and wellbeing of office workers soars up the list of business priorities. This is according to Bostjan Ljubic, the newly appointed head of Steelcase in the UK and Ireland, who believes the economic impact of employee wellbeing, plus greater understanding of the issue is now propelling companies to develop and enhance their engagement with their workforces, as they increase their post-recession drive to attract and retain high quality staff. “The issue of wellbeing has developed very significantly in recent times,” said Ljubic. “Businesses that are focusing clearly on the issue are doing so because they have identified the potential emotional, financial and competitive advantage. The mountain of research on wellbeing points very clearly to it being in a company’s interests to take the matter seriously.” More →

Office design should meet the basic human needs of workers, claims report

office design at Google ZurichDesigners can install sleep pods, slides and play areas in an effort to create a cool office, but the problem is that for every renowned Google campus are countless stuffy offices with fluorescent lighting and cramped, crowded conditions.  When you drill right down to it office workers want those responsible for office design to meet their basic human needs; with more natural light, effective heating and air conditioning and the better use of office space. This is according to the results of a survey by Steelcase of more than 800 office workers across the UK to mark the beginning of Clerkenwell Design Week. It found that despite British workers appreciating the latest technology and high-quality office design, better lighting and more control over temperature settings would be a big step forward towards their dream office.

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Poor office design costing firms in Gulf States dear, claims report

poor office designCompanies in the Gulf States with poor office design are losing a significant amount of money each year because of an associated loss of productivity and other factors including ergonomics and health and safety. That is according to a new survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Index exhibition organisers and office furniture manufacturer HNI. The survey puts the cost of poorly designed workplaces at as much as $70,000 (Dh257,000) per year for a large business and more than $35,000 (Dh128,500) a year for a medium-sized company in the region, according to a new study. A total of 867 senior managers across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait  were surveyed to establish the leading cause of employee accidents within the workspace, as well as the major causes of occupational health issues.

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Ska rating is shaping the future of sustainable office design

t-cmg-01-sideWe all know the ways in which we can ‘do our bit’ at home – turn off the lights when you leave a room, only boil as much water as you need, recycle as much as you can. At work however, it can be all too easy to forget and ignore the impact we have on our environment. Intelligent and inspired office design can not only increase productivity and employee wellbeing, but also be sustainable and provide financial benefits as a result. Although there were established tools for assessing the environmental impact of whole buildings, such as BREEAM and LEED, the certification of fit-outs, especially on existing buildings, had previously been unsatisfactory. To address this, the Ska Rating method was developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

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New collaborative office design for Petronas HQ in Italy

Petronas 2 300dpi cropBuilding work has begun on the new 17,000 sq. m. European Research & Development Headquarters for Petronas Lubricants, the global lubricants manufacturing and marketing arm of Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company. The building has been designed by architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan. The office – located in Santena, just outside Turin, Italy – is part of a major investment into Petronas’ overall research capability and will be home to a community of several hundred scientists, researchers and new product developers. It is expected to play an important role in supporting Petronas’ development and refinement of fuels and lubricants with a particular emphasis on an office design that encourages collaborative work.

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Rem Koolhaas to create office design for new media centre in Berlin

axel-springer-oma-7An office design by Rem Koolhaas’s architecture practice OMA has been selected for the new Axel Springer media centre in Berlin. The firm claims the design will encourage collaborative working and strike the right balance between the needs of people to work priavtely and with others.  The new building will sit on the site of a section of the Berlin Wall. It includes a 30 metre high atrium, described by OMA as an ‘open valley’, with a series of interconnecting terraces, work spaces and meeting areas.  The atrium opens up towards the existing home of multimedia company Axel Springer and deliberately references the distinction between the old and the new by associating so closely with Zimmerstrasse, a main street which was previously synonymous with the split between East and West Berlin. The ground floor level also contains studios, event and exhibition spaces, canteens and restaurants.

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Dual source lighting schemes illuminate the way ahead for office design

Element790_Siemens2_MToo bright, too dull, too much glare – lighting (alongside air conditioning) is often one of the most contentious factors in a workplace. Office workers need illumination to read, write, type and interact. Yet many workplaces get it wrong and fail to consider the downsides of poor lighting, and as such staff will suffer from eye strain, headaches and postural problems, leading to sick days, not to mention lost productivity and mistakes. Eighty per cent of office workers experience at least one negative effect from poor quality lighting, according to researchers Bruskin Goldring, and 68 per cent of employees complain about the light in their offices, according to a study by the American Society of Interior Designers.

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