Domesticating corporate interiors, Sonali Pandit

Domesticating corporate interiors, Sonali Pandit

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‘Today’s work culture is complex and unpredictable. In such a scenario, all-purpose dedicated workstation does not work. An activity based placement is on the rise. This works on all platforms; it helps in recruitment and retaining employees and also helps in increasing productivity and success of employees. An open plan needs to be well thought of to bring in flexibility to work from anywhere in the office. A combination of spaces that comprise of open and private areas; easily accessible workplace, private areas for intimate discussions, breakout areas that turn into quick discussion areas; says Sonali Pandit, Project architect, Aum architects

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Offices today; both public or private, are cross generational. With the retirement age having increased, the offices have to cater to generation Z and not just the younger lot. Designs are aimed in attracting the younger generation but also understanding the various generations at play
photographs: Prashant Bhatt for Aum Architects.

What is the state of today’s workplaces? How has it evolved over the past years? What are the current trends to come…

Offices have evolved over the years. The norms of operations directly reflecting on the structure of the office to more intricate aesthetics. Through the 80s a very focused approach in office design was followed; one can call it hierarchy based and process focused approach. The 21st century saw that change with more nuanced interiors created intersection of technology and people.  It also majorly brought an approach that was not formed by an echelon. A more democratic approach has dominated work space design today; one for the people.

photographs: Prashant Bhatt for Aum Architects.

Many factors influence the design today. Companies themselves lay it down to increase productivity from their employees hence creating an inspiring environment where they can thrive; rather than having them hang by the rope. Design based strategies are made at workplace, companies are actively involved in planning of the office interiors for the well being of the employees. Facilitating in a way to get maximum employee engagement. Behavioral science play an important part in this outlook on organizational design. The key words are flexibility, sustainability and domestic interiors.

The other major factors influencing are the people within an organization. Offices today; both public or private, are cross generational. With the retirement age having increased the offices have to cater to generation Z and not just the younger lot. Designs are aimed in attracting the younger generation but also understanding the various generations at play. However, in coming times understanding that different generations have plenty in common and bringing people together; each with their own experience and skills. This will encourage employees to interact to spur fresh ideas and innovate. 

Behavioural sciences lead to planning layouts that break away from the culture that existed years ago of dedicated workspaces. To boost interaction open offices are opted for and are currently trending. This means to have larger workstations in clustered positions as opposed to blocked individual workstations. This form of planning also brings about flexibility that in-turn increases engagement within the co-workers and they are not bound by their teams specifically. Today’s work culture is complex and unpredictable. In such a scenario, all-purpose dedicated workstation does not work. An activity based placement is on the rise. This works on all platforms; it helps in recruitment and retaining employees and also helps in increasing productivity and success of employees. An open plan needs to be well thought of to bring in flexibility to work from anywhere in the office. A combination of spaces that comprise of open and private areas; easily accessible workplace, private areas for intimate discussions, breakout areas that turn into quick discussion areas. Activity based work settings are therefore on the rise.

photographs: internet

Working hours are no more restricted, Flexibility to work is a requisite as designers we have to be aware of. Thus creating an environment rather than just a space is needed. With these days employees spending either odd hours or more number of hours, the places created be it the workstations or the closed rooms need to be ergonomic and comfortable.  It’s also important to engage an employee into the environment but also maintain a balance of cultural acceptance. Environments that are created by understanding the operations of the organisations turn out to be more complacent to the employees. This helps in them feeling involved and innovate. Since they are not time bound the employees also need sleeping rooms or pods. That are getting included as a requirement in an office design today. The breakout spaces created are multi functionary. Flexibility is important. With them acting as quick discussions area, small break from one’s workstation . Therefore these areas are designed to make them domestic and more cosy or comfortable. Visually too they appeal in an office environment. A culture that’s fast growing around ; be it a small office or a large organization. Flexible spaces boost engagement and satisfaction.  These spots are vibrant and bring informal appearance; making these spaces more desirable to hang around, a place identifiable across generations. Vibrant offices also help in recruiting and retaining talent. This engagement with an office environment helps one identify with oneself and yet merge with the crowd. With human psyche in play one size does not fit all. Also it lets employees work when, how and where they choose. Generally such format of planning receives positive response and fruitful outcomes.

This sort of flexibility also brings in a need for a technologically sound offices. Its an operational need to make technology available for employees to also work remotely. They need to be supported both with technology and business processes that allow them to work effectively wherever they are. This could be within the office or while away from it. Communication tools that aid in celebrating individual or team collaborations, broadcasting organizational goals or objectives or targets. Another inclusion to requirements in addition of a music. This boosts productivity or administrative tasks. However some tasks can find it as noise for employees conducting research or writing tasks..

photographs: Prashant Bhatt for Aum Architects.

With employees spending long hours within the office premises; thermal comfort is important. A centralised air conditioning system helps create a uniform environment with no pockets created that are extreme conditions. With an open office system an approach of merging with the nature works wonderfully. A biophilic design is opted for these days, one where the boundaries of the inside – outside are blurred; designs are more integrated with nature rather than just having add on elements. Designs go beyond having potted plants randomly placed throughout the office and  are more focused  unified environment with green walls, outdoor themed breakout areas. Such elements help pacify the offices. Presence of ample natural light is also a must in this setting. By bringing the outside in has a positive impact on the employees. An overall subtle colour is prefered with a pop of colour in parts is trending. Loud colours are not only disturbing but are also no prefered as they start growing over you and makes the space around the employee monotonous and uninspiring. An ever changing office environment can be created by having variability in the office atmosphere.

photographs: Prashant Bhatt for Aum Architects.

Also, a huge change in selection of office spaces is that vast spaces are desired over vertical office. Vast offices help interaction and mix/collaborate with departments. Offices today prefer going from multiple layers to a more spread out and vast office to remove a sense of corporate hierarchy and minimise chances of ‘us and them’ culture. It helps create a more unified environment. Proximity and connection to their colleagues as it relates to both effectiveness and creativity; A new workforce of unprecedented diversity. New responsibility prompted by increased social consciousness in business world helps mould the design of any work space today.