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Openness and adaptation in the new workplaceThe workplace has gone through a sea change over the last twenty years. Factors such as startup culture, the experience economy, and mobility have led to much more ambiguous lines between work and the rest of our lives.
Collaboration has become a more central point of focus, and firms are heavily focused on partnerships, both leading to stronger and more unified outcomes. Essentially, process has been optimized to improve the product. Working in groups makes sense for a couple reasons: it leads to greater productivity and generally improves morale among employees.
In a climate of openness and adaptation, employees are able move to different styles of workspace and choose the tools that best meet their needs.
“As mobility lifts limitations on where work is done, organizations are challenged to create engaging environments that draw workers to the office,” explains Knoll. “In response, the workplace has taken on new life, functioning as a town square-like hub energized by the hum of the occupants.”
To achieve a communal sense of home, aspects of hospitality and residential design are integrated, allowing workers to feel both engaged and comfortable. The decreased emphasis on individual workspaces has made it possible for organizations to build in more diverse group environments and breakaway areas.
Let’s briefly look at how elements of hospitality design are being used in the workplace and then focus on the emerging concept of immersive design.
How the hotel is changing the officeHere are three ways that hotel design is being incorporated into the office, from Eva Garza in Building Design & Construction:
- Lobbies – The lobbies in many companies now have the feel of a coffee shop or hotel lobby.
- Collaborative hubs – These flexible areas, built to accommodate group work, were common at airports and hotels before they started appearing in the office.
- Blending indoor and outdoor – Since back and neck pain are common complaints in the office, businesses have incorporated outdoor or recreational spaces into the office. Examples include ping-pong tables and miniature golf courses.
Immersive design in the workplaceGiven the increased focuses on mobility, flexibility, and collaboration, immersive design is critical to meeting today’s expectations in an integrated fashion.
“As workspaces become defined by an individual’s actions rather than job function, the lines between space types diminish,” notes Knoll. This approach “enhance[es] interaction, invit[es] connected experiences and radiat[es] a sense of hospitality at every exchange,” the company adds.
There are three primary characteristics of immersive planning:
- Dimensional — You want different types of textures and materials so that your space gives employees a range of tactile and visual experiences.
- Improvisational — You want people to be able to move meaningfully from one location to another, with less rigidity between various spaces.
- Communal — You want the workplace to be fundamentally inclusive, to enhance creative group work and interconnection.