Posted by

Office Dynamics

08 August 2014

Industry data shows that the physical footprint for office workers is shrinking.

Industry data shows that the physical footprint for office workers is shrinking. The amount of dedicated space per office worker has dropped about 20-15% between 2010 and 2012, according to CoreNet Global. The idea is not to move into smaller spaces, but using smarter workplaces and using space more efficiently to get an immediate bottom line impact, and to adapt to ever changing work patterns.

Trends are leaning towards companies opting for office spaces that allows for greater interaction among co-workers. This has seen the replacement of cubicles with open plan workspaces and an increase in meeting rooms and collaboration areas.

Shifting demographics are also an acceleration factor, as companies have to accommodate a younger generation of workers, also known as Gen Y, or the new Millenials (20 to 30-somethings). This generation is more tech-savvy, socially centred and has grown up with the concept of using technology to solve problems. Unlike the traditional nine-to-five worker, gen Y is not just driving the co-working trend, but they are also creating a shift to a distributed work day. Younger professionals work days generally ranges from 7am to 10pm, and a lot more work gets done outside the office.

This generation can effectively work anywhere from a sofa in their living room to a park bench, and, as a result, young workers expect a similar environment in their workplace. They most certainly don’t want to be stuck in a high-walled, closed-door office space limited to accessing information or co-workers. They want the freedom to move and be productive from anywhere in the world.

Alternative workplace strategies involve hot desking and home-based work stations, which have been quite successful over the past decade. With advanced technology, mobile devices and cloud computing, it enables more flexibility in and how people work. Employees are no longer bound to their desks. The key is striking the right balance and not to build to much collaborative spaces as it is still vital to have a dedicated space where people can have privacy to make phone calls or be able to concentrate on “heads-down” tasks without the distraction of other workers.

The ideal workspace should be balanced, flexible, mobile and managed by the latest digital tools. It should satisfy the needs of the company and the employee. The spaces we occupy shape who we are and how we behave. This has serious consequences for our psychological well-being and creative performance. Given that many of us spend years working in the same room, or even at the same desk, it makes sense to organize and optimize that space in the most beneficial ways possible.