Traditional workspace designs are rapidly changing to keep pace with changes in employee behavior. Consequently, the styles, colors and configurations of modern office cubicles have changed to help improve productivity, make the workspaces more user-friendly, and give employees a more comfortable and healthier place to work. “Alternative workplaces” and “activity-based working environments” are two of the latest trends.
When used strategically, these non-traditional workplaces and schedules can result in lower overhead and operating expenses and make collaborative work efforts easier.
- Flextime and compressed work weeks are common today and allow employees to balance work and family life.
- Small satellite offices have become more popular, allowing workers to commute to convenient locations rather than to company headquarters.
- When employees work on different shifts, companies often spend less money on furniture and equipment (printers, copiers, etc), because they can be shared between groups of workers on different schedules.
- Activity-based environments allow companies to move employees around the office based on the projects they’re working on.
- Larger open spaces where employees can work side by side, without walls dividing them, are in style.
- Small meeting spaces give remote workers a place to set up shop if they are in the office only for the day.
- Robust wireless data systems and cloud-based storage technology means that employees don’t have to be tied to a particular workstation.
- Activity-based environments can reduce overall office space requirements by up to 30 percent and make employees happier and more productive.
But telecommuting and non-traditional work schedules demand more flexibility in workplace design. Herman Miller, the company responsible for the award-winning Ethospace frame-and-tile system, has led the industry in cubicle design for decades. The Action Office system they introduced in 1968 was revolutionary and changed perceptions about office furniture.
Today’s Ethospace system allows for a remarkable number of configurations and customizations, providing every type of business with freedom to create innovative, modern work environments.
Space-saving shared offices may be appropriate for your business, where one worker uses the cubicle three days a week, while another uses it on the other two days. If the days ever overlap, work benches can be made available. These are long tables, with roving plugs for laptops that can accommodate multiple workers, depending who is in the office that day.
Cubicles can be designed with common area tables, shared meeting spaces and multiple seating configurations. Gathering areas can be configured where workers can hold informal meetings, chat with colleagues, or plop down with a laptop.
Workstations, sometimes called “wormholes”, can be dedicated to online videoconferencing, with a connection to a satellite around the world. That way, employees who are working together on a project can have a quick video chat when phones and email won’t quite do.
Some trend-setting companies have installed “walkstations” in open cubicles, where employees can get some exercise on a treadmill while answering email on a computer that’s ergonomically placed where they can reach it easily.
Others have taken advantage of Herman Miller Ethospace 90-, 120-, and 135-degree panel configurations to create flexible space for employees who need to stand, sit and move around while working or attending meetings.
Modern office cubicles offer unlimited possibilities if you can just think outside the box.