How we conduct our business has changed to match the technology we have. Where once we had the “cubicle farm” that was thought to be efficient, we now have a new leadership, and a new ideal. Not only are they asking why we do business they way we do, but can we do it better. They aren’t afraid to try new things and experiment with current designs. On top of all of this, they understand that the happiness of their employees is a direct translation into the productivity and creativity of their business, so they’re striving to taking their suggestions into account when making decisions.
Cubicles are Going out of Style
When you say the word office to most people, they think of the endless rows of dull colored cubicles that were the standard for years. They were meant to help employees focus, but instead led to people feeling isolated and depressed.
Most modern offices offer layouts that are more open, which more employee input, choice, and collaboration. Open layouts mean that your employees can either find their own, quiet space to work in peace, or they can enjoy the hustle and bustle of a lounge space to keep them energized as they work.
Employees no longer need a copious amount of space for chucky desktops or landline phones. Nowadays we can find a file on our phone, rather than in a filing cabinet, and we can email it to anyone, whether they’re across the table or across the world.
The Importance of Going Green
Old offices were fairly empty of life, but today they’re built with the workers kept in mind. People need light and clean air, and as such many offices have been taking steps like placing plants in the office to help bring some life and a calming feel. Not only are plants pleasing to look at, they also help to clean the air and are proven to help reduce stress.
Choosing Hours to meet Your Needs
Modern business understands that some of their most creative and valuable team members are not the type of people who thrive in the grind of a nine to five, Monday through Friday workweek. As a result, the rules are starting to change as productivity is placed over tradition. Managers that give employees choice in when they come in find that, despite some coming earlier and some later, all are coming in feeling more rested, relaxed, and prepared for their day. Team members now commonly assigned tasks as well as deadlines and will check in with their leaders on a daily or weekly basis and update them on the progress, but other than that they are flexible to do the work when it makes sense. Some people need those extra couple of hours of sleep, while others rise with the sun. This kind of schedule means that deadlines are still met yet the work produced is higher quality.
Keeping it Casual
Modern business is more focused on results than fashion trends, and there has been a major shift in attitudes in regards to dress codes throughout the new office. While tattoos were once taboo in offices, currently they’re no longer such a struggle to have, as modern leaders have come to understand that creativity and uniqueness can be beneficial, and either way it isn’t going to distract from the work. While the modern style has changed, this shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of standards. While day to day attire may be more relaxed, workers still know to put their best foot forward when meeting with clients.
This helps your workers as they’ll take the energy they once spent fussing over their ties and put it towards bettering their work. People today want to feel comfortable and most people find it a lot easier to focus when they are able to be themselves and not confined.
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Brightening the Worker’s days
People spend a lot of time at work and, as animals, we were never meant to stay indoors sitting down. One of the worst complaints about old offices were the horribly harsh fluorescent lights that were pretty much standard issue. While modern offices haven’t done away with artificial lighting, they are taking steps to allow more natural light in the office. Architects are taking the need for light into account when they design new spaces, accounting for the sun’s angle at various times throughout the year and making windows larger and more pronounced.
This can aid in lowering the amount of depression in workers, especially during the winter months where employees may only be outside at the right time to see the sun for one or two hours. If they can’t get natural light then many places have begun switching from the old tube lights to bulbs which better mimic natural light. Not only are these bulbs better for the mental health of the workers, they are also much better for the environment as today’s bulbs last longer and use less electricity.
Currently green architecture is being added into offices to go along with the latest technologies. Along with saving them some money on utilities, they’re able to use these designs to lower their carbon footprint. Examples of this kind of tech are the installation of solar panels or the use of vertical gardens to provide shade.
Even the furniture is taken into consideration as decorators are utilizing the newest in both sustainable and recycled materials. Seeing as our modern world is losing its need for the old filing cabinets or wooden desks, there’s also been a push for more minimalistic office spaces. Where once we had the cubicles, we not have open, well lit lounges.
Providing for a Relaxing Break
The new generation knows the value of recreation and managers know that happy workers are productive workers. Anymore it isn’t uncommon for game consoles or TVs to be present in the office, or at least the break room, to allow employees a chance to relax and break the ice with others. One of the ideas behind this is when employees learn to be more sociable in recreation settings they’ll then become more efficient when they’re working together as a team.
Our new generation is also more concerned with their health, so full gyms and exercise facilities are also commonly provided when an employer is able. Healthy individuals are less prone to becoming sick or spreading illnesses since their bodies are better at combating them. This leads to higher rates of productivity so these programs are a win for both the companies and the employees. Smaller businesses have been known to partner with local gyms to reap this benefit for themselves, offering free, or at least discounted, memberships in their benefits package.
Better food Available
The new generation of office workers is often very health conscious and very aware of the food they put in their bodies. In our modern times we know that heavy, high fat foods will make people feel sluggish and tired, and modern employers are looking to combat this. Managers will take time to hear what their team has to say and tailor the options based on that. As vegan and gluten-free diets have become more and more common, so have these options on the menu. What was once the look of a bland cafeteria has shifted to match the high quality food that is now being made by professional chefs. On top of this, rather than go out to get lunch employees are more likely to stay and enjoy the provided food while spending time with their coworkers.
Open door Policies
Both literally and metaphorically. It used to be that you could only speak with your direct manager or supervisor, never anyone higher than that unless they came to you. With the new open designs come more open working conditions, and the leadership is now becoming more involved. Collaboration is key in modern industries, and managers are learning to listen to their employees more. As a result, team members feel more valued at their jobs and less frustrated. They know they are able to speak directly about their ideas and concerns and that it’s safe to do so.
The other side is that the open layout also encourages this idea. Unless their in meeting, more and more bosses are leaving their doors open to create a more unified sense of community where the person in charge is no longer looked at as an authority to be feared but as more of a coach and mentor who is there to build their team.
Whether it’s a deadline or just the need to take a few minutes to find your center, we all need to unplug and sit in silence for awhile. Designers have begun to include these quiet rooms in their designs, allowing whole teams to just sit in silence while they work or relax. These rooms are often dimly lit and are meant to evoke a sense of tranquility. This was once thought of as some novel idea, however it’s been seen that these spaces result in less stress and higher employee satisfaction.
Working from Home
Many modern offices are no longer a building you go to, but are rather online, taking advantage of our modern internet, video calls, and the high speed data transfers. Files can be transferred to your phone and meetings can be done via such platforms as Skype and Facetime and as technology continues to progress, we are finding less and less need to have the large central offices that were once necessary for business. More and more people are now choosing to do business on their terms from the comfort of their own home.
There is a middle ground for those who want that controlled or quiet office environment without being stuck in their home all day. You don’t have to get a long term contract to rent a space, now you can do it by the day, even the hour. These places often have many of these modern traits we spoke about earlier. There is a whole host of spaces included within these, and while they may have an area that resembles a modernized cubicle, they’ll likely also have an area with open tables, a quiet room, and a few other in between options. Small businesses benefit in a lot of ways, including that they only pay for the time they use, and when they need to meet with a client this professional and welcoming space is a great way to meet a client.
You can’t stop Office Evolution
It’s funny, just 30 years ago we were all still using typewriters. Technology is going to keep changing our world, and in doing so our businesses. These spaces are no long just a densely packed set of cold cubicles; now they’re bright, open, and have provided some great coffee and tea options to be enjoyed while working or on break.
Sure the space has change, but the idea of an office, a place where people come together to work and grow, has not. From the Sears Tower in Chicago to spaces that you can rent for an hour to meet with clients, the spaces that we do business in are as diverse as the kind of business we do.