Designing a modern office is no small task. It’s a facility that needs to fulfill many functions, so it should be set up to support productive and collaborative work, but also to impress clients and business partners. The office should also feel comfortable and inviting to those who work in it every day.

An office design created for these tasks takes inspiration from many different design traditions. Industrial design, once used for large hauls and factories now finds its place in a modern office. Minimalistic and Scandinavian styles have been reserved for homes and now they are commonplace in the office as well. The key to combining these eclectic styles is to always keep in mind how the office will be used.

Open plan office

Open plan offices have been around for years, but it’s Facebook that has brought them back to the public attention, with their main HQ being an open plan office with a glass cubical for Mark Zuckerberg. The main selling point for such an office is that it creates a democratic and open work environment. Have in mind that these types of offices don’t fit everyone’s work style, because many like their privacy while they work.

Bringing nature in

Another big trend in modern office design is the integration of the natural surroundings into the office itself. It’s what Amazon has done with its first HQ and what it will probably do with the second one. Incorporating local parks and plant life into the office, makes it appear more natural and friendlier. Nature walks and healthier lifestyle overall become a part of the company culture and a key point in how a work day is structured. This can even go a bit further and lead to creating self-sustainable offices, which grow their own food and microcosms within a city they are based in.

More light

Natural light plays a big role in how the office day is structured and how productive it is. An office that expects its workers to spend long days working needs to provide them with enough natural light, so they don’t feel isolated and gloomy. Installing roller blinds can help with managing sunlight throughout the day and the year. Etsy, for instance, has an office that’s pretty much all windows, and it creates a sense of openness and clarity on bright, warm days.

Minimalism

Minimalism is one of those design trends that everyone talks about and that seem either perfect or off-putting depending on your personal style and preference. If executed well it can make the office look neat, organized and somewhat futuristic. It isn’t surprising then that this is the style Apple offices have chosen for themselves. It’s important then, when you make this call, to stick with it. It can’t be just about the layout and the design. Office furniture and artwork need to in the same style, as well. It’s sometimes better to have it custom made for your office, so it fits the aesthetic.

Reinventing the cubical

The cubical gets a bad rap because it’s associated with boring jobs and a sense of isolation at the office. That’s partly why so many companies use open plan offices to compensate. However, the need for personal workspace is bringing the cubical back. It’s not going to be a boring and mundane cubical of the past, but a new approach to it, with the same goal in mind. It’s a closed off personal space in which one can work with no interruptions. Airbnb has installed such separate spaces for their workers, with enough personal space to decorate and organize two- or three-person meetings.

How to choose?

Working in an office needs to be a collaborative effort, and therefore so should designing one. The employees need to be able to provide their input and it should be taken into consideration and applied when possible. This is obviously, much easier to do when you’re starting your office from scratch. When you’re using an office that you didn’t build yourself, there are additional limitations to consider, but you could still adapt it extensively and in collaboration with the employees.

Modern offices are designed to meet the needs of both the employees and the industry as a whole. This is done by mixing a variety of different styles and forms.

 

Published by Emma Lawson