The object of designing new office and work environments is to create integrated spatial concepts which meet employee needs. Modern office landscapes are typically characterized by open spaces which have flexibly usable areas, provide employees optional workplace choice, and offer space for interaction. To meet the extensive work requirements of our fast-paced work environment, it is necessary to design user-friendly zones for efficient individual and group work.
Even in open office landscapes, individual offices are required – for example, for managers in order to provide space for confidential discussions. Sound-insulated glass partition systems are ideally suited for this application. Their transparency helps to maintain an open and spacious room atmosphere.
Efficient exchange of information in teams is facilitated by so-called team spaces, integrated in an open office concept. In such an open-concept workplace, eight to ten people sit together at workstations or blocks of tables; exchange of information is additionally promoted by the integration of further communication furniture such as the media cart or smart table. Work results can quickly be presented on the integrated media cart screen, while spontaneous brief meetings can be held at a stand-up table.
Flexible workplaces, however, should also be provided throughout the company for employees who mainly perform mobile work. In these cases, shared desks allow employees to choose their workplace individually. Since the desks usually have to be emptied at the end of work, it is practical to use lockers and mobile pedestals to store the employees' tools and documents. The caddies no longer have a fixed place under the desk, but are stored in a "caddy garage" intended for this purpose at the end of work.
Places of retreat also have to be integrated in an open office concept which promotes communication and interaction – especially younger people want flexible quiet zones for need-oriented use. For example, sound-insulated think tanks or focus rooms are ideally suited for supporting focused, individual, or confidential work.
As an individual workspace, a think tank can be furnished, for example, with a height-adjustable desk and an ergonomic swivel chair or also with a sofa. A focus room for small groups of up to four people is usually equipped with a meeting table with matching meeting chairs as well as a white board or also video conference technology to record work results and support virtual collaboration. In both individual workplaces, natural elements such as green or water walls can also be integrated in the spatial concepts in order to enhance comfort and air quality. Places of retreat in the public space are used for relaxation; in addition they allow temporary separation from co-workers and create privacy.
Meeting zones, lounges, and training rooms can also be integrated in open office and work environments. Companies can use in particular lounge areas to create internal third places which promote spontaneous cross-team and cross-department communication and stimulate the exchange of ideas. To enable unscheduled meetings, open spaces should contain not only fixed units such as sofas, chairs, or standing tables but also flexible furniture.
Atmospheric design elements such as green partitions allow harmonious separation of public spaces from the individual workstations, promoting creative work at the same time. An outdoor view or gaming and recreation facilities in the workplace can also help to enhance comfort in the workplace. In third places, not just atmospheric design elements but also adequate functions have priority – reliable wireless internet access (WLAN) is just as important as good lighting and enough sockets for notebooks.
In addition to conventional workplaces in the office, flexible forms of work are also part of a future-oriented work environment – for example working from home or in temporarily rented workspaces outside the company. Well-established home offices as well as modern co-working spaces or co-rental spaces should be integrated as alternative workplaces in corporate processes. In a large area, co-working spaces can rent individual workstations – flexibly on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Users are given fully equipped workplaces, and break and meeting rooms are also available. Interaction areas such as lounges stimulate informal communication with others. In particular social interaction turns out to be an advantage here, for in contrast to a home office, it promotes a corporate feeling which also has a positive impact on employee motivation and productivity.
Access to co-working spaces is usually quite easy – basic workplaces can be rented inexpensively by means of a specific membership fee; special services such as a locker for storing personal items or usage rights to the meeting rooms can be added as needed. Especially start-ups and creative industry representatives use co-working spaces, however this form of work is becomingly increasingly interesting also for knowledge workers from classical companies. In contrast, the principle of co-rental spaces involves several parties renting an office jointly – in this cases workplaces range from individual offices to open-concept workplaces in flexible configurations. This kind of office arrangement is geared towards joint use of infrastructure and workplace configuration that promotes innovation and creativity.1