Find the 7 Differences

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Workplaces are all about people, technology, and the physical space. And beyond these main drivers lies myriad ways in which a workplace can actually be designed. But in this article, I’ll highlight the 7 characteristics that I think represent the cross-section of most workspaces designed today. These 7 characteristics also differentiate the modern-day layout from older, more traditional workplace designs.

The question is, can you spot those differences?

Figure 1: Traditional Layout, by AITEK 2012

Figure 2: Flexible Layout, by AITEK 2012
The Traditional Layout

This tried-and-true way of designing workplaces has worked for decades, but it doesn’t work any more. The traditional formula was: Number of people x the space needed for each person depending on his status, equal square meters needed.
So far, technology and new generations entering the workforce have substantially impacted workplace expectations and cultures. No more “military” workplaces, no more empty desks, no more meeting rooms collapsed, no more people walking around the office talking by their phones because they do not have privacy, no more hierarchies…

In other words, no more traditional layout.

The new manager has to take the office space as an advantage. She has to be a step ahead and design an efficient/productive workplace for all of her employees; not just her senior staff.

No matter in which sector you work or what kind of service you offer, employees have different tasks, roles, functions, and different objectives. So the space has to accommodate.

The Flexible Layout

This new way of designing today’s workplace is, at its core, all about adaptation. Individual and group spaces alike must be able to evolve to meet the different needs/activities of people and the companies.

The new approach has to incorporate close/open spaces, individual/group areas, formal/informal spaces, rest/concentration rooms, learning spaces, and inspiration spaces. Therefore, it’s not a one-size-fits-all formula any more.

Figure 3: Table of Needs

So, back to our exercise. Have you spotted the 7 main differences of Figure 2 versus Figure 1?

  1. Flexible: A Flexible workplace connects people, promotes collaboration and is responsible.
  2. Collaborative: The office becomes a place to meet and communicate.
  3. Dense: Density is not anymore measured by square meters per person. Now we have to include support areas.
  4. Optimized: Every company has its own code its own DNA, therefore the space has to meet their own needs.
  5. Efficient: Adding value with imagination; motivation, interaction, creativity and innovation.
  6. Effective: The space supports knowledge work, learning and socializing modes.
  7. Unique: All these improvements results in employee engagement and job satisfaction because they feel more connected with the corporate values of their company.
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