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Combining work, living and social design

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If you’ve spent any time away from a conventional office in the last decade and then returned, you will have noticed a big difference. Here we look at how our living and working spaces are crossing over and what this means for design.

Combining work, living and social design

Big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple have offices that look like playgrounds or trendy loft apartments, with kitchen islands, sofas, sleep pods, plants and art. Now their influence has spread.

The ‘home-ification’ of the office is a major trend. The converse of this is the ‘work-ification’ of the home, with many people now having at least a corner of their living space set up as a home office, which they use for one or two days a week.

At the same time, commercial developers, encouraged by planners, have been enthusiastically concentrating on mixed-use developments: buildings that incorporate office space, residential properties, hospitality and retail in the same building or development.

Battersea Power Station and Canary Wharf are two great examples of this trend in London, but it can be seen right across the country.

The benefits of mixed-use spaces

While there is a strong commercial rationale to mix up shops, flats and offices, as well as cinemas and restaurants – the developer is not solely reliant on one type of tenant - it also feeds into efforts to boost employee wellbeing and encourage staff loyalty, by creating a better environment in which to work.

Attractive buildings with a mix of uses promote a sense of community. Enticing people out of their office at least once a day also encourages better physical and mental health.

Creating the perfect workplace

When Condeco researched the modern workplace with business leaders around the world, two-thirds said that employees are placing growing importance on where they work, as much as what they do. A similar proportion regard their offices – and the facilities offered by it – as a key plank in their recruitment strategy. As one CEO said: “If the vibe isn’t right”, then people will leave.

Technology that helps people make the most of a building and work flexibly is just as important as the right design “vibe”. Millennials have grown up with digital systems that work. They pay for coffee or unlock a bike with a phone and organise their lives around smartphone-enabled service providers – whether it’s getting food or a cab.

Whether they are in the office or working from home they expect the same access to systems, software and video conferencing facilities. Technology that empowers individuals – to book rooms or to set up a video call – helps employees get on with the task at hand quickly and efficiently.

At the same time, it helps them to benefit from their environment and surroundings – all factors that increase the chances employees will feel fulfilled and engaged in their role.

Interested in alternative ways to working in offices? Find out about the benefits of moving your meetings outdoors.

Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for any views expressed lies with the author(s). Any opinions shared do not necessarily represent the views of Saint-Gobain.

Peter Otto, Condeco
Peter Otto, Condeco Director Product Strategy & Design
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