The team at UK-based flooring company Quadrant discusses the importance of workplace design, and how it has evolved
When we first started out selling flooring back over 25 years ago, the workplace was a very different place. Most people worked 9-5, home working was a rarity and offices and their floors were often adorned with acres of grey carpet tiles.
Fast forward to today and the office space represents so much more. For the majority of us who are working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, the office seems like a distant memory. Yet it embodies more than just a place to go to work, it is a place to be with people who are working towards similar aims, a space to be able to be creative and collaborate. Which is why office design is so important. Over the last three decades we have seen how design has evolved and noticed a number of key trends.
If the 90s was the decade of looking out for yourself, the noughties has been the decade about looking after each other. From needing space for yoga and meditation classes, to breakout and collaborative spaces, the office of today needs to incorporate wellbeing in its DNA. It’s not just about the look of the space, it’s about incorporating elements that enhance wellbeing such as natural light, good acoustics, clean air and biophilic elements that connect us with nature. From the ceiling to the floor, offices need to be comfortable as well as robust.
As well as being a place where people feel better about themselves, the trend has extended to ensure office spaces work to make the world a better place, with a sharp focus on sustainability and eco-friendly design. More and more office developments now strive to meet specific environmental assessment standards like BREEAM and SKA by combining creative design with ethically sourced materials. Sustainable design is now being driven forward by innovative thinking architects and designers exploring super-sustainable materials like cork.
Of course, a productive office space is always going to be the holy grail with value per square foot a metric for success. The objective to maximise the amount of people within a building with the least floor space was helped by the evolution of technology as office equipment became smaller and filing cabinets migrated to the Cloud. Creating agile environments that allow different work settings yet remain robust was key. Product durability, ease of maintenance and flexibility are integral to successful office design today, helping facilitate companies to flex up, downsize and change the purpose of a particular area to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency.
Living in a 360° world, the need for the office space to look good has become more important than ever with social media such as Glass Door allowing team members to rate their working environment and colleagues sharing images of their workspace online to unlimited audiences. Expectation of great spaces to work within has been raised by the likes of Google, Red Bull and Facebook and the design of an office is now intrinsic in attracting and retaining talent. However, the office aesthetic is also the shop window of your brand, attracting both clients and influencers as well as showcasing your brand values, ethos and principles. We have seen a move from cellular offices to open plan offices with break out spaces and cafés, blurring the boundaries between work and leisure.
It is no surprise to us at Quadrant why our new cork ranges are becoming some of our best sellers, ticking all the boxes for wellbeing, sustainability and durability while looking great in all sorts of commercial spaces like offices, schools and universities, bars and restaurants and residential common parts. Ranges like Corkwood and Corkform, with their incredible carbon negative footprint (where more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere than is emitted throughout the lifecycle of the product) means that every cork floor fitted is helping to reduce global warming.
Hopefully in the next few weeks we will all resume our normal lives and slowly return back to our office spaces. As the government lockdown eases, and we come back together again, we surely will begin to appreciate our workplace and the role office design has to play in our lives.