Office is gone

Andi Plan
"Trends in office design goes towards spatial diversity," says our Architect Andreas Meier.

Co-Working Spaces are springing up like mushrooms, home offices are accepted and thanks to digitalisation no longer considered as "blueprints", physical presence at workplaces is no longer needed. Why is an investment in architecture and office design still reasonable? Answers by Andreas Meier, Architect at Aroma.

Why should companies invest in corporate architecture and office design when employees spend less and less time at the office desk?

The premises reflect the corporate culture, values and attitudes. Architecture creates identity both internally and externally. The job market is developing into a battle for best talents – unique architecture and office design in accordance with the culture are crucial for attracting and retaining employees to a company.

Furthermore, cooperation and communication are driving forces for innovation in nowadays knowledge society. Spatial design is a significant factor.

More than a merely tool for external representation, but also for employer branding?

Yes, to tie it to an example: A company that upholds teamwork an innovation acts untrustworthy if the employees do still work in single offices and the coffee vending machine is situated in the dark vestibule.

On Running Slider 03
On running Office: Chill-out zone next to workstation.


An answer for the preference of home office?

Due to technologization, today's work is no longer necessarily bound to a specific location. Accodingly we work at home offices or en route. Nevertheless, we are social beings in need of community and interpersonal relationships which we are only able to experience within the company. Studies by the Frauenhofer Institute show that the spatial environment makes a significant contribution to employee motivation. Regardless of how much time we spend at the workplace.

 

Is Google a role model? Chill-out zones, hammocks, table football, a slide and many bright colours – is it done by including a "playground" into the office landscape?

It won't work. Google clearly shows: the work environment transports spatial identity on one hand and promotes work processes on the other hand. It is not an end in itself. The perfect working environment is another for every company.

News Arbeitswelten
A «playground» can create variety in the daily work routine.
Nevertheless, today's office designs are more reminiscent of a residential landscape than of grey halls full of workplaces. What are the influences?

Trend is towards spatial diversity. Different work situations support different work styles. Focus zones, for example, allow concentrated work, proper placed seating groups encourage spontaneous exchange. Innovation usually not occurs in the conference room.

This trend is supported by scientific studies proving that we work better and feel more comfortable in a "living room atmosphere", to quote Alice Hollenstein, urban psychologist.

 Admeira Bilder Medium 01
Admeira Office: Inspiring working zone with living room atmosphere  

What to pay attention to, planning an office redesign project nowadays?

An office redesign is a big challenge for employees and often seen as an tremendous change. In order to keep inhibition thresholds low and promote acceptance, we involve employees at all hierarchical levels in the process at an early stage, for example by means of workshops, creating visions or trial facilities.

Several generations work in one company. Aren't there different notions of the "perfect workplace" associated with this?

By 2020, 50 % of all employees will belong to Generation Y (born between 1985 and 1995). They question authoritarian structures and want to work with a company rather than for it, to name two characteristics to distinguish between former generations. All the more important is the early onboarding of different employees for the office design.

After this conversation, the terms Office Design or Corporate Architecture seem to me to be rather inappropriate.

It is about much more than just beautiful design. We examine the organisation intensively: from corporate identity, corporate values to communication and work processes, before we focus on indoor climate, lighting design or ergonomics at the workplace.

Want to know more? Click here for Aroma Architecture's references.

 

The interview was held by Karin Knapp. She likes to pick up trends, but doesn't ride every wave.