Farewell to your desk; offices become non-territorial
After the actual health crisis, work spaces will no longer be like the actual ones as measures such as greater hygiene control or distance between workers will change the design of our offices.
But also, this crisis has come hand in hand with new working and communication methodologies such as tele work which is here to stay and the work space has to adapt just as technology.
We can say that there are two main trends in the new design of work spaces in addition to those regarding safety and hygiene.
- From positions assigned to a “pool” of work spaces.
- Greater importance of collective spaces.
From positions assigned to a pool of work spaces
Greater flexibility and tele work will mean that more people will spend less time at their specific work stations questioning occasionally the traditional ratio 1 worker= 1 station. In fact, according to a recent study by Ofita 40% of the space at our offices was already empty most part of the day before Covid19 crisis.
Companies will resort to alternatives to assigned work stations. These new solutions will allow a more rational use of spaces designed and organized depending on the real presence of workers and not on absolute counts.
The trend is to move towards systems where employees have access to a diverse range of work spaces (a pool of not assigned work spaces but rather which belong to all members of the organization or the whole department). This means that in this modality workers do not have a station at the office but rather they are assigned one when they go to the office. This assignment is done according their needs at that time and the availability of spaces.
Therefore, part of the savings achieved by the elimination of work stations personally assigned are reinvested in an increase of leisure and relax areas and alternative work and communication spaces, each of them conceived for a type of work or specific work dynamic (work requiring concentration, team work, informal communication, confidentiality, etc.).
It is the non-territorial system: there are no spaces personally assigned but rather an elaborated offer of different work stations which allows a better adaptation of spaces to our processes and work dynamics, creating a more varied space which motivates people and absorb unexpected growths of staff without changing the office immediately.
The space is designed according to the needs of workers rather than to their status. People can choose the work station that most adapts to their needs at that time and therefore it is easier for them to better accept the fact of leaving their assigned work stations.
The non-territorial system (“non-territorial offices”) where everything belongs to everyone allows considerable space savings, provides the organization with greater flexibility, adaptability and growth (“breathing organization”) and supports mobility of workers, their work methodologies and satisfaction.
Non-territorial offices – menu of work stations
The menu of work stations (WS) offered by non-territorial offices will depend on the dynamics of each organization and may also include Individual Work Stations:
– WS requiring concentration
These are stations to carry out duties requiring individual concentration, team work and their own individual work surface.
– Variable WS
These are work stations displayed in bench tables with variable capacity depending on the density of staff and space requirements.
It allows the absorption of work peaks (periods of greater activity) as their density is variable.
– “Plug & Work”
Small work stations displayed throughout different areas of the office and suitable for the quick development of a task which does not require high concentration.
They can be seen in passing areas, in entrances or in company cantines for example. Frequently they are conceived for users to work standing or seated at a stool as in bars.
– Silent Room
These are small enclosed cubicles designed for individual work requiring concentration or to make confidential calls without the nuisances of open spaces. They are not assigned and their use should be reduced to a few hours a day.
– Team Room
Small rooms to work individually or in small groups of 2-4 people that allow acoustic isolation, concentrated work and confidential and/or external meetings. They can also be used for a variable period of time during critical stages of projects (several days or weeks). When these stages end, the room is available for other members of the unit.
– Meeting Room
Meeting rooms reserved for more people and conceived for work meetings and presentations with outsiders.
– Value added Area / Informal Communication
Common relax and leisure areas integrated in the office space available for all workers and eventually available for outsiders. Areas such as a club, a café, a relax room or pool table for example. They are conceived for “ad hoc” and informal communication between workers of the company or with outsiders for their relaxing and chill out during and after the day or as an alternative work area for workers.
How to manage these spaces
There is a broad range of possibilities and the main differences rely on: whether non-assigned spaces are totally free and are used according to the logic “first-come, first-served” (“free address” spaces) or using a booking system (“hoteling”).
And also in the authorized time spent for each type of space (“touchdown” areas or reduced stay at the office, project rooms booked for its hole duration, etc.)
Additionally, spaces belonging to every one require the implementation of work rules specifically designed to operate in a flexible environment and the preparation of guidelines on the use of each space.
Greater importance of collective spaces
Thanks to new technologies, the duty of offices will change (they were already moving in that direction before Covid19): ever more people do not need to go to the office to carry out their duties as they do them where they consider more appropriate specially from home.
However, the role of the office is still relevant given its duty as communication and interaction centre between people. Therefore, according to a study by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 80% of all innovations is the consequence of interpersonal communication.
This has a clear impact on office spaces that have to be adapted to new demands.
We may distinguish two types of common areas: group work spaces and informal communication areas. These spaces represent the meaning of new work methodologies: interaction spaces, informal knowledge exchange, leisure at work place and blurred frontiers between private and professional life. Common areas are primarily flexible and adaptable to be varied according to the needs of each time.