How we conduct our business has changed to match the technology we have. While the cubicle farm was once considered to be the most efficient way to work, a new generation of leaders have emerged. These newbies aren’t just asking why we conduct ourselves the way we do, but can we do things better. They aren’t afraid to try new things and experiment with current designs. Above all else, they’re taking in what their employees are telling them, because in our modern world we need a company that, from the foundations to the top, is filled with happy, productive, and creative people.
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.
Thanks to our laptops and phones, we no longer need the massive amount of space that we used to in order to do our job, and we are now able to get more done with a lot less. Whether your coworker is on the other side of the room or the globe, you can now get them that file they need within seconds via email rather than having to run to the cabinets and search through them, hoping they were even put in the correct place.
The move to be Green
Old offices were fairly empty of life, but today they’re built with the workers kept in mind. Knowing that people need light and clean air to thrive and work their best, plants are often incorporated into the design, giving the space a much more relaxed feel. These plants do more than look pretty, they also help to freshen and clean the air, as well as aid in reducing employee stress.
Working with a Flexible Schedule
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 are letting their teams work when they want and the results are that, while some people are coming in later and some are coming in earlier, people are not coming in feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed as often. Employees have been given more flexibility with their workload and deadlines as well, not meaning that they have none, but that they’re given the work, a basic deadline, and are told to check in regularly, and from there the employee is able to prioritize and work on their assignments based on what works best for the personally. Not everyone is able to function early in the morning while others work their best at dawn. This kind of schedule means that deadlines are still met yet the work produced is higher quality.
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Suitless Isn’t Fruitless
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. Sure, your blue hair was once a sign of a lack of professionalism, but that simply isn’t true anymore, as often this is seen as creativity, and no matter what modern leaders are looking for employees who’ll work hard over ones who look the part of a cubicle goer. This is not to say that standards have been lost, they’ve just been adjusted to fit the times. Day to day attire has become more relaxed, but when clients or potential partners are brought in for a meeting employees know to greet them while looking their very best.
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 who get to work in comfort and without feeling constrained will feel much better in their work.
Adding some Light to the Party
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 helps to lower the rate of depression amongst workers, especially during the winter months when the days are much shorter and some workers only see an hour or two of sunlight per day. 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. These aren’t just good for your employees though, as modern bulbs are designed to last longer and use less electricity, which is great for your bills and for the environment.
Businesses are always growing and evolving to match the times, and right now designers and leaders are working to create spaces that don’t just include the latest technology, but the latest innovations in green architecture. Along with saving them some money on utilities, they’re able to use these designs to lower their carbon footprint. Some companies might add in vertical gardens, while others may instal solar panels, or some may do both.
Decorators will also look at the furniture options, often wanting to use materials that are sustainable and, if able, recycled. Another factor is the push to a minimalist office as we no longer have any real need for bulky, heavy furnishings such as large wooden desks and file cabinets. The modern office often looks more like a lounge than the cubicle farm that was the dominant mode of design for nearly 40 years.
Providing for a Relaxing Break
What makes your employees happier, and thusly more productive, than a bit of fun recreation? Often offices will have TVs or game consoles that allow employees the chance to calm down, relax, and even act as a conversation starter in some cases. 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. Productivity often increases due to the fact that employees are no longer calling out sick on a regular basis. Even smaller businesses have seen the benefits of this and will often partner with local gyms to provide their employees with free or discounted memberships as part of their benefits package.
Giving Better food Options
As part of the modern health trend, the choice of food has become a bit of a sticking point for many people. Now that we understand that heavy foods, which are high in fat, can create tired, sluggish staff who are unable to focus after lunch, employers are taking action. Managers have listened to their teams and are now offering them much better dining options. 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
This is not just metaphorical, but literal as well. 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. This way of thinking has changed and offices are now more open than ever with leaders taking a more circular approach to managing. More managers understand that you need to listen to their employees and encourage collaboration on all levels. Teams are left feeling like they have a say in what happens to them, and that their feelings and opinions matter. They know they are able to speak directly about their ideas and concerns and that it’s safe to do so.
Even the physical design of our offices are encouraging this sort of activity. Often bosses leave their doors open these days, if they even work in a separate room, to allow a sense of closeness and openness between them and their employees, showcasing them as an available mentor rather than just a boss.
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.
Your home, Your Office, Your Rules
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. Using programs like Skype, GroupMe, Facetime, and more, we’re able to transfer data near instantly and hold conversations, even meetings, all from our laptops and phones. Many businesses have begun to work from home now.
For those that seek a happy medium, smaller businesses that need regular meeting space or freelancers who need a more structured environment to work in, several places have come up with a solution. Now, instead of having to sign a long-term lease for space, you can now rent in by the hour, day or longer. These places provide a modern, professional environment with a lot of great perks and amenities. These places have a range of environments, from cubicles and private rooms to more modern lounge like settings. They offer small businesses on a budget a way to save money by only paying for the space they use, when they use it and make a much better impression with potential clients than meeting at the local coffee shop.
Offices will Continue to Change
It’s funny, just 30 years ago we were all still using typewriters. As technology continues to change the world, it will continue to change the way we do business. 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.