South African offices are changing rapidly as the workplace continues to shift from a utilitarian place where you earn your money from 9 to 5 to a much more people=friendly, welcoming space where we will spend more than 50% of our time during our working lives.
Emma Leith, Interior Decorator at workplace specialists Giant Leap, shares her top five workplace trends in South Africa for 2017:
The end of fixed workspace layouts
Creating multifunctional community space as well as a diverse selection of areas is becoming increasingly important in order to accommodate constantly changing needs; allowing people to have greater fluidity, mobility and flexibility in the workspace.
“This trend can be seen in the form of modular furniture, work benches and sit-stand desks. Communal areas are becoming an important part of the workplace where people can get together for an informal meeting, to simply enjoy a cup of coffee alone or with a college or to collaborate across teams,” says Leith.
The Modern Office: A Home Away From Home
The office fit out is becoming increasingly geared towards creating a more lived in and homey feel.
“It’s a home away from home type of scenario. This is created by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break out areas.”
Leith says that this ultimately provides for a better working environment allowing for greater employee satisfaction. This trend interlinks with point one above as people now have the option to work in more relaxed, comfortable environments.
“Residential furniture is another element that is being used more and more to create that warm, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling,” Leith added.
The growing trend towards the open plan office generates the need for private pods/ areas, as the open plan concept does not always provide for the best working environment.
“Private pods are needed whether it be to have a quiet phone call, meeting or place to work with no distractions. Therefore a combination of spaces is essential in the modern workplace,” notes Leith.
Private areas can be innovatively designed telephone booths, sound proof quiet rooms and sound proof space dividers. Increasingly, various new “pods” are being installed in the workplace in South Africa.
“Secluded pods allow office workers to meditate, smash things or scream and will be commonplace in two years time,” Leith notes.
Themed Meeting Rooms To Portray Company Identity
Themed meeting rooms are becoming important areas for companies to portray their identity, values and what they do.
This may be in the form of wallpaper, graphics, furniture, lighting, or colour.
This allows for each meeting room to take on a certain personality, ultimately making them more interesting and inviting spaces to be in, as well as emphasising the firm’s identity.
Not just for trendy companies like Google any more or start ups burning through cash.
“Games such as pool and Ping-Pong are also being brought into the communal areas which allow colleagues to interact with other on a more relaxed level as well as help them to relax.
“This trend is growing in South Africa is an effective way to break the office stress cycle and rest the brain, “ Leith concluded.