The 6 most important trends in modern work environments

Employees at Uber’s NYC office. Photo; Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The modern workplace has increasing differences from its predecessors and former incarnations. Gone are the high walled cubicles, the corner offices, and the reliance on a mail room or even a comms room.

We are amid large scale change, where the future of our workplaces will focus less on the space and more on those who use it – driven by personal wellbeing and productivity, and will underpinned by supportive technology.

With a new (financial) year upon us, BRM Projects have looked at 6 key factors that will shape our environment.

1. Personalised environments

It has been a decade old legend that guests at Bill Gates’ home, can set their own temperature, lighting and music to match their taste as they move through different rooms. Now, this far-fetched luxury is making its way into the commercial workplace.

Recently, Siemens has collaborated with Fiat in Italy to equip a 100-year-old building with hundreds of Wi-Fi connected sensors that monitor different data sets. Now, each office works can set their preferred temperature and illumination settings, as well as interact with co-workers, book meeting rooms and shared desks.

2. Virtual reality (VR)

Most of the publicity surrounding virtual reality (VR) headsets has been around gaming, but workplace and home applications are numerous. With VR equipment now on the consumer market, companies are exploring possible applications in everything from videoconference to interactive learning.

Designers can use VR to work through complex three-dimensional problems, or to showcase designs and provide clients an experience.
In less creative industries, VR headsets can be used to transport the user to far away worlds, to meetings across the Atlantic, or simply a distraction-free work environment.

3. 24-7 office

The days of nine to five are gone. The awkward feeling of getting eye-balled as you walk through the office for turning up half an hour late are on their way out. A study by Dr Paul Kelley of Oxford University last year revealed the nine-to-five working hours are completely out of sync with human biology.

Not only do we all have different peak/productive hours, but there are also non-physiological benefits.

Other benefits include better real estate use efficiency (9-5 only accounts for 33%), improved communication channels with international partners, reduced commuter traffic resulting in shorter travel times, greater work-life integration, and ultimately a happier, healthier and more productive community.

4. Co-working shake-up

While BRM Projects love a good co-working space (having designed 3 in the past year), this disruptive industry is already getting a bit of a shake up.

Late last year we saw the next wave operators coming into the market, with one simple goal – to make use of already available empty spaces. Rather than securing and fitting out their own spaces, the concept looks existing opportunities in key locations – namely restaurants and cafes, utilising the fact that at certain times during the day they sit unused.

5. Wellbeing

Over the past few years, BRM Projects has seen a major change in focus in workplace design and a greater investment in people. While the physical space must accommodate staff effectively, it also needs to incorporate wellbeing.

As our work/life worlds become more intertwined, researchers, designers and managers have found that happy people make for a happy workplace, thereby being more productive.
The right environment will increase employee retention, reduced staff stress and better output.

6. Collaboration

Collaboration has been splashed around so much, it’s almost become a dirty word.
Most companies strive to boost collaboration between workers, but the modern business will boost collaboration between firms.

A trend maturing out of co-working spaces, is seeing established SMEs coming together to create an environment where lots of brains and personalities work in the same space – ultimately looking to create a more engaged place of work and fuel new energies.”

Steve Schmidt is the director of BRM Projects.

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