Breaking down the walls: 21st century work space

Posted on October 22nd, 2012

Categories: Business, Management

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If you’ve ever worked in a particularly dreary or a particularly impressive looking office space, you will understand the significant impact that an office’s spatial design can have on work motivation. Over the last few decades, we have taken care of our homes to make them look inviting and feel comfortable – but business owners are only just catching on to the fact that office spaces should be designed with its inhabitants needs in mind too. An office is not merely a vessel from which you execute the days’ tasks; its structure and design can affect behaviour hugely and this in turn affects the productivity and success of a business allowing for more opportunities and greater efficiencies. As popular philosopher Alain de Botton puts it, “We need our rooms to align us to desirable versions of ourselves and to keep alive the important, evanescent sides of us.”


The history of office design is uninspiring to say the least. To maintain power structures, the top executives of a company would reside in enclosed offices while the junior employees would work in cubicles, always observable by their employers. But in the 21st century, this kind of office layout is increasingly viewed as a hindrance to productivity, particularly in certain work areas. We all know that effective collaboration between colleagues is an essential practice in the workplace, so putting up barriers between people via office doors and cubicle walls will clearly have an adverse effect on the collaborative potential of an organisation’s employees, and thus on the productivity and earning potential of a business. Allowing a company’s employees to operate in a more flexible working space, enables them to communicate in better ways  with the team around them; new working practices are emerging based on collaboration, initiative and exploration.


So, what exactly has driven the new trend for open plan work spaces, to have senior executives and office juniors sitting side by side? Advances in technology mean that employees no longer need to sit at their desks in order to execute work tasks. As mobile technologies such as laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones make us more work-mobile every day, it becomes increasingly clear that the idea of ‘place’ in the office is not what it once was. In today’s office spaces, it is perfectly feasible to have hot desks where different working groups can form each day. Employees are also increasingly given the option to work from home; as the necessity of office walls erodes, employees are taking advantage of working from spaces that make them feel motivated, whether that’s a shared open plan office, the local shop, or their own home study.


A great twist of 21st century business is that the aspiration to a ‘big office’ is steadily becoming a thing of the past. Traditional work space layouts are radically changing and your business may find that re-inventing all or part of your office space may increase productivity and employee satisfaction. Open plan office space accommodates more workers in less space offering efficiency and savings to businesses that are looking to reduce costs.


We can help you to improve your business efficiencies and reduce costs. Get in touch today to find out how Ascend Twentyone can help improve your bottom line.



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