Like it or not, the past few years have shone a light on just how much the workplace can impact on people’s behaviour, mood, and productivity – with colleagues now demanding the right to choose where they carry out their tasks, in line with what matters to them from a work-life balance perspective. But how has the workplace evolved over the years, and what design ideas can we still see today? We take a look…
The open-plan office
While the notion of ‘open-plan’ might conjure visions of distinct zones for very different types of work, the original open-plan concept came to the fore in the early 20th century, and was borne from efficiency, and the adoption of regimented office layouts that saw workers siting along rows of desks, with managers located in encircling offices where they could observe.
Take Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Headquarters as a great example. While not every HQ has the advantage of a world-renowned architect behind the space, this is a great example of ‘traditional’ space-planning, designed to increase productivity by fitting over 200 sales staff on a single floor - interesting concept, right?
Those who began their careers in the 1960s might remember the idea of the ‘office landscape’ (otherwise known as Burolandschaft) which saw teams sit together, but in clusters, rather than endless rows. This layout focused primarily on encouraging interaction between colleagues, marking the start of the era of understanding colleagues’ collective needs.
By removing partitions and encouraging managers to sit amongst their direct reports, this ‘progressive’ model encouraged collaboration, and the methodology is still used in workplace design today.
Watch any film from the 1980s, and you’ll almost certainly see evidence of the ‘stack them highly, sell them cheap’ model which dominated this era represented in characters’ workplaces. The availability of modular walls saw the ‘design’ of offices regress, with workers crammed into uninspiring, windowless, fabric-panelled walls.
The rise of technology
While the pandemic has truly shone a spotlight on remote and hybrid working, many forward-thinking organisations didn’t need a global pandemic to highlight the power of technology when it comes to harnessing the power of an agile workforce.
In the 1990s it wasn’t uncommon to see people working from coffee shops, or their home offices – with the company HQ swapping out allocated workstations for the new hot desking approach.
Fitting it all together
Looking back, it’s easy to see how the eras and scientific approaches to office design have fed into the ‘pioneering’ layouts we see today. Colourful co-working spaces, designed with different working styles in mind take the concept of workspace design forward, while still giving a nod to the ideas of the past.
A workplace that feels like home
As employers across the globe face the challenge of enticing workers back into the office – if that’s what their operating model dictates – there’s now a distinct shift towards making workplaces ‘feel like home’.
From soft furnishings to cosy lighting, the latest ‘design trend’ takes into account the wellbeing of all who occupy the space which, arguably, shouldn’t be classed as a trend at all – in fact, evidencing a commitment to sustainability, mental health, and employee comfort is what will set employers apart when it comes to attracting, and retaining, top talent.
One of the ‘buzzwords’ of the moment, biophilic design is a concept which aims to increase building occupants’ connectivity to the natural environment – through the use of both direct and indirect nature.
Linked to wellbeing, the notion centres around its ability to provide comfort, simply by introducing nature to the space – such as daylight and ventilation, physical landscape features, and other organic elements. What’s more, it also satisfies some of the requirements laid out in the BREEAM and LEED certifications – which many workplace designers actively seek. In addition, the WELL certificate allows businesses to demonstrate commitment to employees’ wellbeing by delivering on 10 key principles — a qualification that our design and consultancy project manager Lucia Prado has been studying hard for, in preparation for her exam in September.
As the needs of the modern workplace – and workforce – continues to evolve, whether you’re working on a completely new strategy or redefining existing principles, the planning and vision should encompass a brand’s overarching goals and values – and look at how best to bring such sentiment to life though a variety of communication channels. And you can download your FREE copy of our ‘guide to building a strategic workplace,’ here.
International commercial interiors specialist Agilité has committed £10,000 to supporting and advancing the careers of women working at all levels of the commercial property sector – in both France and the UK.
With a workforce that is 31% female, including 57% of its senior leadership team, Agilité has committed to supporting CREW France and UK, affiliates of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network – which boasts over 12,000 members globally.
“When it comes to supporting women at all stages of their careers, I’ve seen the power of CREW first-hand – having been a member since 2019 and also sitting as the chair of CREW UK’s communication committee,” explained Agilité’s development director, Kirsty Shearer.
“We are passionate about supporting women in the real estate industry, and with bases in both the UK and France, we were keen to invest in fostering real estate talent within the local markets.”
Established in London in 2016, the past two years have seen the UK arm of the network offer leadership opportunities – via board positions and committee roles – to 30+ real estate professionals within the UK.
Meanwhile, Agilité’s investment into the fledgling CREW France will help to power a mentorship program headed by Laurence Girod, head of enterprise IPM solutions EMEA at Cushman and Wakefield. The programme will include 15 mentors from all aspects of the commercial real estate industry providing a broad perspective, guidance, and career insights to mentees.
“Agilité’s support will help us to build bridges between real estate women globally,” explained Siobhan Godley, head of Deloitte real estate and CREW UK board chair. “The power of the CREW Network in the United States and Canada is undisputed, and we’re delighted that, with Agilité’s longstanding support, we can open CREW UK and France to be part of an established organisation that connects, supports, and advances women globally.”
Recently, you might have seen our design and consultancy project manager, Lucia Prado, speaking to WorkLife about how modern office design impacts working relationships and decision making.
During the interview, Lucia explored how seriously organisations were taking strategic design, some of the pitfalls of creating spaces that aren’t truly fit for purpose, and the effect an attractive and efficient workplace can have on attracting the very best employee talent.
In your opinion, do you think companies take workplace design seriously enough – and has the pandemic and hybrid working focused minds?
People are the key assets in any organisation, and for this reason companies take wellbeing very seriously. And, to help in their endeavour, businesses will need to plan and implement a design which fosters an environment where people want to come to work every morning, feel valued and safe, and can perform effectively and in harmony.
Since the pandemic, workplace design has evolved rapidly. Many premises were empty for over a year, but organisations were still able to keep things running – with most workers operating from home. This phenomenon, new to most companies, encouraged colleagues to adopt new technologies and skills – and a fresh appreciation for the ‘work from anywhere’ notion.
Some industries – such as financial services, insurance, research, and IT – adopted, and adapted to, remote working at a faster pace, while others really struggled. But, in the end, everyone found a way to work remotely.
Finally, 2022 arrived, and (many) employees have returned to the office. But what happens now, at a time when many have realised they prefer a fully remote or hybrid approach to their role?
There’s no denying the pandemic has rearranged priorities, schedules, family dynamics, time management, and attitudes to life in general. Hybrid is here to stay, but likewise, the office will not disappear completely. And, for many, it will remain the best place to communicate, collaborate, undertake training, tackle brainstorming sessions, and encourage team building.
What are the downsides of having an office space that isn’t fit for purpose – and how can this impact companies in real terms?
Having the right tools and design is mandatory to succeed in the long run. Imagine a bakery without an oven, an airport without a control tower, or a house with five bedrooms and only one toilet. Such an approach would cause bottlenecks – and the circulation flow would not be logical.
There are many downsides of having a space that isn’t fit-for-purpose, one of them being wasted time and resources. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to office design, but get it wrong, and you could see a decrease in employee motivation, engagement, and efficiency – plus a much higher turnover of staff.
Done right, office space should properly reflect the company values and be sympathetic to operational processes. The design should take into consideration the tasks performed by each department, and provide adequate tools to optimise employees’ time and energy.
Why and how does workplace design differ from company to company - and how can companies work out the optimum layout for them?
You can’t take a cookie cutter approach to office design. Every business is different – from the industry they work in, cultural nuances, and diverse management styles to the workforce’s age, size, and function.
With that in mind, office design should be relative to the company activity and culture.
While the layout of the space may be reflective of the organisational chart – with a nod to company objectives and growth plans – there needs to also be thought given to clustering, and the need for easy connection between departments.
If the company is well structured, it will be reflected when drafting the layout design. The look and feel will invite both colleagues and clients to embrace the ‘experience’ of the brand from the moment they walk through the front door.
The best place to start, is understanding the vision and values for the organisation – and what story they want to tell. A flexible and fun start-up will probably end with a ‘Silicon Valley style’ – cramming lots of services inside their premises, as well as flexible spaces with soft seating, probably a nap room, and plenty of coffee corners to encourage communication, innovation, and energy.
The experience is likely to be totally different for those who are entering a financial services HQ. You’ll likely be greeted by high-end finishes, elegant furniture, perfect acoustic treatment, and closed environments that provide a feeling of privacy, confidentiality, and trust.
How have workforce needs and behaviours changed since the pandemic – and how does workplace design reflect that?
Most offices adopted new digital tools during the pandemic and are continuously working on improving the hybrid experience. The workplace design challenge now centres around making a space which employees want to visit – beyond the need to turn on a PC, reply to emails, and do their online work. Because we know that now can be done from the comfort of their home.
The office needs to be repositioned as the beating heart of a company, where colleagues meet, and spend face-to-face time with each other, clients, and management, and while performing any work they are unable to complete at home. Going into the office isn’t overrated, but it should inspire a holistic experience for users and visitors.
In short, the office should complement what the home can’t provide. That could be privacy, a space for concentration, open communication, fast internet, wellbeing zones, or even psychological safety – due to the ‘opening’ hours of the space.
And finally, how important is an attractive and efficient workplace in attracting the best staff?
The company magnet is its culture, its people. Done properly, a workplace should reflect those aspects, and influence the experience of those who enter.
This is very much akin to retail and hospitality design. We all have a supermarket we prefer to shop in, a favourite restaurant with a cosy atmosphere and soft fabrics, or a luxury hotel for special occasions – complete with a magnificent view – the same goes for the workspace. You have to create the feeling you want to instil in those who cross the threshold.
In summary, it all comes down to the attractiveness and efficiency in the design, and one which will resonate with users – making them feel more engaged, motivated, comfortable, and relaxed.
In the wake of successful retail roll-outs in London and Paris for National Basketball Association (NBA) and Fanatics, Agilité is looking forward to making a start on the latest store – in Berlin, Germany.
To find out more about the newest opening on the continent, read the official press release from NBA Communications, below.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Fanatics, a digital sports platform and one of the largest global providers of licensed sports merchandise, today announced that the first NBA Store in Germany will open this fall in Berlin.
The new store, operated by retail giant Lids and located at Alte Potsdamer Str. 7, 10785 in The Playce at Potsdamer Platz, will mark the first NBA Store in Germany and the fourth and largest in Europe, joining London (UK), Milan (Italy) and Paris (France).
The nearly 1,000-square-meter store will feature an extensive range of official NBA and WNBA merchandise and memorabilia, including jerseys, apparel, headwear, sporting goods, toys and collectibles from major brands such as Nike, Mitchell & Ness, New Era and Wilson. The store will also feature exclusive NBA Berlin-branded apparel and novelties, as well as a customization area where fans can personalize NBA jerseys and hats for all 30 NBA teams.
“The NBA Store in Berlin will provide an unparalleled, premium NBA shopping experience for fans in Germany featuring the region’s widest array of custom merchandise across their favorite teams and players,” said NBA Europe and Middle East Senior Director, Global Partnerships Steve Griffiths. “Through Fanatics and Lids, this immersive retail experience will serve as a unique opportunity for fans to access the latest NBA apparel and products to express their individual style.”
“Lids is excited to bring the first NBA Store to Berlin,” said Lids Sports Group President, Britten Maughan. “Located at The Playce at Potsdamer Platz, the store will provide basketball enthusiasts with an extensive range of official apparel and memorabilia, along with the option to specially customize products of their choosing. Basketball is a sport that transcends every culture. Lids is excited to provide a destination for locals and tourists to shop an extensive offering of fan and fashion product.”
“We work closely with the NBA to look at new ways it can reach its ever expanding global fanbase and we’re therefore delighted to be opening yet another global retail presence in a key international market,” said General Manager, International for Fanatics, Danny Downs. “When the new store in Berlin opens, NBA fans in Germany will have an unrivalled customer experience delivered by Lids, global leaders in sport retail, and we cannot wait to welcome them into the new store.”
As part of the league’s collaboration with Fanatics and building on Lids’ physical retail expertise to provide fans with an authentic NBA shopping experience, additional NBA Stores outside the U.S. operated by Lids are scheduled to open this year. Locations and details will be announced at a later date.
Upon the opening of the NBA Store in Berlin, there will be physical NBA Stores in the league’s top three merchandising markets in Europe, with Germany joining the UK and France. There are more than 400 NBA-branded retail stores and attractions worldwide that serve as the league’s official destinations for fans around the world, including the flagship NBA Store in New York City operated by Lids. NBA fans in Germany and across Europe can continue to shop online at NBAStore.eu for a wide range of NBA products featuring all 30 NBA teams.
For more information about the NBA, fans can visit @NBADeutschland on Facebook and follow @NBA_de on Twitter and @NBAEurope on Instagram. Fans in Germany can watch live NBA games and programming throughout the season on DAZN. Fans can also download the NBA App for news, updates, scores, stats, schedules, videos and more.
In the wake of a successful retail roll-out in London for National Basketball Association (NBA) and Fanatics, Agilité is delighted to share alook inside the latest store – in Paris, France.
To find out more about the newest opening on the continent, read the official press release from NBA Communications, below.
- New Three-Floor NBA Store Operated by Global Retail Giant Lids Features Latest NBA and WNBA Merchandise -
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Fanatics, a digital sports platform and one of the largest global providers of licensed sports merchandise, today announced the opening of the first NBA Store in Paris. The new store, operated by retail giant Lids and located at 20 Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris’s Latin Quarter, marks the third NBA Store in Europe, joining London and Milan.
The more than 300-square-meter, three-floor store features an extensive range of official NBA and WNBA merchandise and memorabilia, including jerseys, apparel, headwear, sporting goods, toys and collectibles from major brands such as Nike, Mitchell & Ness, New Era and Wilson. The store also features exclusive NBA Paris-branded apparel and novelties as well as a customization area where fans can personalize NBA jerseys and hats for all 30 NBA teams.
“We are excited for Lids to open our first NBA Store in Paris, a city with tremendous passion for our league and the game of basketball, which will continue with the upcoming NBA Paris Game in January 2023,” said NBA Europe and Middle East Senior Director, Global Partnerships Steve Griffiths. “Together with Fanatics and Lids, this new and interactive NBA shopping experience will allow us to further meet the needs of our growing fanbase in France.”
“Lids is thrilled to bring the first NBA Store to Paris,” added Lids Sports Group President Britten Maughan. “Located on Boulevard Saint-Michel, the store will offer the widest assortment of NBA products in the country, including fan apparel and fashion inspired by basketball culture in the U.S. The NBA has a broad appeal globally, and we’re confident this new store in Paris will follow the success of those in London and Milan, serving as a destination for both locals and tourists.”
As part of the league’s collaboration with Fanatics and building on Lids’ physical retail expertise to provide fans with an authentic NBA shopping experience, additional NBA Stores outside the U.S. operated by Lids are scheduled to open this year.
Locations and details will be announced at a later date.
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