What is an office, these days? That might sound like a simple question at the outset, but think about it. If you’re heading into the workforce now, chances are you’ll never work in a prototypical office environment portrayed as standard in popular media – you know, the whole setup with cubicles and such. According to the latest commercial design reports, the concept of what an office can be is changing rapidly as we learn more and more about how workspaces affect the people who use them – and, in effect, the bottom line of a business.
That’s the conclusion I’ve come to, anyway, based on my research. I have to admit that it’s kind of exciting, despite the mild disappointment of acknowledging that Mad Mans is not reality (which is definitely for the best, all things considered – I just like the clothes). Basically, the shifting definition of offices means there’s an opportunity to think about what could be when it comes to how we work and do business.
Here in Sydney, office design is definitely changing – slowly, perhaps, but steadily. I reckon it’s in the middle of a transformation, meaning that it hasn’t yet realised the full potential of what it’s going to be for the next little while. This makes sense, given how fast technology is changing, because ultimately that’s what workspace designers are going to have to respond to. Until we get some equilibrium in the commercial tech arena, I don’t think offices are going to settle into any one standard template.
This is particularly applicable when it comes to the finer points of office fitouts. Sydney office managers, you’ll be familiar with this story: no sooner have you implemented a costly new layout to accommodate the latest computer setup than there’s a new one ready to take its place. For that reason, I’m guessing that flexibility is going to continue being a key feature of the contemporary workspace. I’m talking elements that can be readily modified, moved or repurposed as technology requires.
No doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg.