In the beginning.. offices were stuffy and uptight places
where staff wore suits or dresses to work. You were given a desk to sit at which
was usually surrounded by desk mounted screens to separate you from fellow workers
to enable better concentration and higher productivity.
Over time, business relaxed slightly, allowing new ideas
like dress down Friday, where people wore casual wear because it was the end of
the week. In some offices, this seems to have become a five day options as
people wear jeans to work every day of the week.
Office furniture has followed the changes in its own way.
The first big change was to 'hot desking' - a flexible working system in which
people took their laptop and phone and sat on any spare desk that was available.
This meant that if you usually worked away from the office, your desk didn't sit
empty all week.
Office furniture and interiors now seem to be relaxing even
further. You can still buy wooden desks with silver or dark grey cantilever
legs but now different coloured tops in wood and laminates are now becoming
available. The rise of laminates allows designers and furniture buyers to
specify a rainbow of colours. White is the most popular but I have heard of
designers requesting desks in red and orange laminate. The legs can now be
gently curved and available in white and polished aluminium as well as silver.
This is best illustrated in the DNA range, designed for Verco by Roger Webb
Offices seem to be taking on an appearance of being a 'home
from home'. Interior colours are moving away from the industrial to colours
that you would put on your walls at home. Fabric colours on seating and
partition screens used to be Lead, Charcoal, Cherry Red, Royal Blue etc. This
year, a lime green fabric is our best seller. Table lamps suitable for home use
are becoming more commonplace in the workplace. Some clients are also putting
rugs into offices.
On a recent blog, (see below) I explained how Google had
made its new Victoria offices more inspiring, by using 'Brighton' for
inspiration and incorporating Beach Huts for Meeting Rooms, stools shaped like
liquorice allsorts and video conference rooms shaped like dice. Certainly not
your standard office.
Are these moves to encourage staff to relax and mix more
with fellow workers, therefore communicating better as a team? Or are they to
make staff feel more at home at work and therefore spend more time there? I
would rather work in a happy workplace than an oppressive work environment
where I cannot wait to leave in the evening. How about you?