9 Ways Office Environments Should Be Modernized in 2020

The idea of office workers contently typing or filing away in their own neat, little cubicles has been erased. 

Studies on stress, the need for a work-life balance and changing attitudes towards modern office layouts have taken us far away from the rigid, traditional workplace. 

Old offices were setup in ways where interaction with others was discouraged. There was also a false belief that keeping people cooped up was essential to productivity and focus.

In 2020 office workers demand more freedom. In fact, a survey involving global office workers showed that about 70 percent of them spend at least one day a week working remotely.

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Both millennials and Gen Z-ers prefer to work in more open spaces, as long as they are also provided quiet zones for when they want to work without distractions. 

Flexibility and easy access to private spaces where they can focus best are of prime importance to the success of this new generation of workers.

Given these facts, many companies have veered away from traditional office setups and have begun modernizing their commercial real estate.

While all this is happening, don’t let your company get left behind.

To give you some inspiring ideas, here are nine ways in which office environments can be modernized to meet the demands of today's workforce.

1. Create an office environment with natural light

Studies have shown that natural light greatly improves the employee experience.

Workspaces exposed to natural light also have better indoor light quality and help reduce vision problems and headaches among office workers.

One company showed that more than half of the employees surveyed said the amount of natural light as well as a pleasant view increased their commitment to their employer. 

More than 70 percent said the same elements helped improve their job performance and increased their job satisfaction. Moreover, 80 percent reported how the natural light and views positively impacted their happiness and well being. 

For the modern office, this means investing in big or wall-sized glass windows that let in natural light and give people in the building sweeping views of the flurry of activity outside.

Install smart blinds to reduce glare without totally obstructing natural light at certain times of the day.

Dedicated workstations need to be located about 20 to 25 feet away from windows to ensure each one gets an adequate amount of sun.

Additionally, glass walls and doors for private offices may be installed to provide both privacy and access to natural light. Avoid using large or bulky furnishings that can block sunlight, and be sure to strategically locate office equipment.

2. Open spaces for unrestricted movement

Say bye-bye to cubicles and high-walled partitions.

The emphasis on collaboration in today’s workplaces would not be possible in physically restricting and divisive office setups.

Moreover, the new generation of workers seems averse to settings that scream ‘corporate,’ and instead prefer a liberating ambiance that encourages creative thinking and untethered idea exchanges.

So, get rid of the cubes, and focus on wide floor plans that feature co-working spaces, outdoor meeting areas, comfortable seating, and spaces where people can walk or go up and down to relax, stretch, or de-stress.

3. Easy-to-access meeting rooms and community tables

Aside from providing the usually enclosed meeting room setup equipped with a big screen and projector, install community tables all over the office in sections where group chats won’t disrupt work. This alone will make your office environment more agile.

Meeting pods should be accessible to everyone, and not reserved for managers and top brass alone. 

This accessibility helps foster collaboration and can grow leadership skills. Certain team members tasked with coordinating or leading both impromptu and planned meetings will benefit most.

Community tables do not only function for quick, informal work chats but can also be used as workstations for people who want a temporary change of scenery. 

These folks can easily bring their laptop to a community table and work, or go there to discuss ideas & collaborate with other team members.

4. Hot desks and alternative/flexible seating

Another true indicator of freedom of movement and use of space in modern workplaces are hot desks. 

This office design tip means workers do not have a permanently assigned place, so they essentially get a workspace on a first-come, first-served basis. All you need to do is ensure that there are enough desks or units for everyone to use.

Alternative seating, including the no desk practice, is possible if there is a sufficient number of sofas, comfy chairs or recliners.

And alternative seating or working options (such as standing desks) should be there for employees to take turns using as they please.

5. Quiet spaces & work zones

While wide open office spaces do imbue a sense of freedom and movement, they can also be noisy and disruptive. 

This can be a major drawback for team members that need to do focused work in a quiet place with little to no distractions.

To address this problem, modern office setups feature quiet zones where anyone can go to enjoy  peace and privacy. Zenbooths are designed to provide this exact option. 

They come in different sizes or capacities, and the various models can accommodate one, two, and four to six people.

Zenbooths are designed to deflect noise and well-insulated so you can work in peace. They have full skylight ceilings so the area is as well-lit as the outside. 

The also feature motion-activated fans to ensure you get adequate and fresh ventilation. The booths contain built-in electrical outlets, fast-charging USB outlets, and data ports, so you can stay plugged in and work while inside.

Zenbooths can be installed anywhere, as they have minimal space requirements.

Aside from office booths, you can also integrate an in-office library for those who want to browse, or work in a no-talking zone.

6. Biophilia – a touch of nature

People crave to be outside and enjoy connecting with nature.

You can implement this into the workplace by bringing in more natural elements.

Plants are not only pleasant to look at, but they also help relieve stress and improve indoor air quality by getting rid of toxins. Some of the best plants you can use are:

  • Dracaena
  • Bromeliads
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Parlor palm
  • Umbrella papyrus (palm)
  • Mother-in-law's tongue (snake plant)
  • Creeping fig
  • Spathiphyllum (such as peace lilies)
  • Pothos
  • Philodendrons
  • Sansevieria
  • Aglaonema
  • ZZ Plant

7. Color and inspiration

One of the easiest upgrades to implement, you can apply strategically-placed color elements or artwork to enliven what would otherwise be a dull or sterile office environment. 

Even well-appointed or colored lighting and artistic light fixtures can have similar effects.

Featuring wall-sized inspirational quotes will not only give team members some food for thought but will also keep them inspired as they power through work every day.

8. Technology

Aside from furniture and office equipment, you would also want to provide your team some useful technology that’s relevant to their roles.

Using smart technology such as sensors, dimmable lights, large screens, cloud storage, voice recognition features, and the like can improve efficiency as well as streamline daily operations.

However, in getting everything connected, be sure to keep cords and cables tidy and, if possible, inconspicuous, to reduce visual clutter and tripping hazards in your office.

9. Decompression zones

Stress and burnout are real, and they can cost you in terms of productivity and lost work hours due to tardiness and absences. 

This can be minimized or avoided in a modern office space where there are decompression areas available for employees to use any time they feel overwhelmed or mentally bogged down.

These are essentially recreational rooms where staff can play a round of pool, ping-pong, darts, or similar leisurely and relaxing activities.

Some companies even provide gyms for their employees to use so they can relieve stress with a good workout.

Try these stylish & creative way to modernize your office environment

Employers today already know how essential work-life balance is to the happiness of their employees. 

They also know how feelings of happiness, contentment, or plain old job satisfaction all impact the company bottom line. 

Moreover, providing the perks of a fun office environment also helps in the engagement of team members.

Having a better office can make you competitive and an employer of choice for talent looking to work at an innovative, collaborative company.

And although the initial investment may be significant, the benefits to be gained are substantial and for the long term.

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