The work place, and particularly workspaces, are forever changed. No longer are offices just for punching in and punching out. The modern office has become a place to relax, renew and reconnect as well. The invention of the laptop and wireless everything provides freedom to break away from the traditional desk setting into a more freeform work environment. The modern workplace has collaborative meeting spaces, convergence of the indoor and outdoors, and is multifunctional and personal.
Collaborative Meeting Spaces
One of the big trends in office design has been the implementation of collaborative meeting spaces. We are seeing workplaces with less and less private offices and more shared spaces to not only maximize square footage but to also encourage employee interaction and idea sharing. This system creates more of a team environment and overall increased office energy.
I love the idea of creating meeting spaces throughout an offices like the one shown above that is located in the Paolo Alto, CA offices of AOL. This space is the perfect place for a quick conversation with a co-worker, but can also be closed off for a private meeting if needed.
The J Banks office also has special nooks and meeting spaces for us to quickly gather and talk through our current projects and design concepts. Having large surfaces to lay out and discuss plans, concept images and selections are very helpful. They allow for sharing with co-workers which ultimately assists in the evolution of our designs.
Personalizing Your Space
Today, our homes and offices are becoming more intertwined. This is apparent in our workspaces. We are encouraged to bring objects from home that make us feel happy and inspired. Personal items such as pictures of our family, friends and pets, special mementos and greenery make us feel more comfortable and at ease. A quick tour around the J Banks offices will show that each workspace exhibits individual personalities and items that stimulate their creativity.
J Banks Design Group
J Banks Design Group
Personalizing your office can even mean bringing a hobby into the workplace. This fun office space is at the Surfrider Foundation headquarters in San Clemente, CA. One of their employees even brought in their own drum set to the office for mental breaks and stress relief during the workday.
Convergence of the Indoors and Outdoors
The idea of bringing the outdoors in has always had an influence in most of our projects. The feeling of being outside and within nature creates a sense of peace and relaxing energy. Even though we would all like the opportunity to work outside on a perfect breezy, sunny day, we unfortunately cannot just pick up our desks and move outside. So let the outdoors come inside and create outdoor spaces that could serve as a work environment when the weather permits.
At J Banks we have incorporated many large windows to allow natural light to penetrate almost every area of our building. Not only does the office feel light and bright, but the health benefits of natural light help to keep employees healthier and more energized.
Using natural and reclaimed materials is also something we’ve incorporated in our office design. Teak desks and reclaimed flooring throughout makes our spaces warm and inviting.
Our outdoor courtyard not only lends itself to lunches on a sunny day, but also gives us the chance to meet outside with co-workers or clients and enjoy the beautiful Hilton Head sunshine.
A clever solution to bring the outdoors in for a small office space is to include vertical gardens like these featured in a LEED certified architecture firm in San Francisco. Clean and simple.
Multifunctional spaces play a big role in current office design. These types of areas are space and time savers, and, like other modern updates, boost productivity. One of our larger multi-functional areas here at J Banks Design, the Sienna Room, lends itself to several uses such as vendor presentation space, client meeting space, video conferencing and a variety of other functions.
The room uses several small tables that can be combined or separated and arranged into a variety of set ups. The room can also be completely cleared and used as event space.
A great solution for smaller offices can also be movable partitions. These partitions, at the Institute of Design at Stanford, CA, do double duty as room separaters and movable presentation space. What a great space for client or staff meetings.
These are just a few trends that we continue to see incorporated into different types of office spaces.
As designers, we love to challenge ourselves to find new and innovative ways to transform a place of work into a place that fosters inspiration and creativity.
Commercial Staff Designer