As corporate employees, your staff spends a major portion of their day within the office space. Every industry is working towards improving its employees' productivity. The question of workspace setting affecting the productivity of employees has been raised time and again. In fact, after intensive research and numerous studies, it has been found that about 37% of people are likely to take a lower salary package if the workspace is appealing.

Every physical office design has been rendered ineffective due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. However, it's time for some changes in the classic office floor plans. The change in the future of design and floor plans of offices is inevitable. Here's what the expert interior designers have to say about what can be expected in the new normal.

The effect of open office spaces on productivity

Initially considered the future of office space designs, the 'open office' floor plans are the part of almost every workspace design in SMEs in the UAE. Even though several studies have shown that open office space does not boost productivity in any significant way, it remains one of the most popular floor plans. However, the rising concerns of the spread of the virus mean the old floor plans require a drastic change.

Is it effective?

Priya Telavvane, JBM's interior design expert and mentor, suggests that the use of designated areas for focused work will not only support teamwork and collaboration, but it will also be an ideal space for people to work separately. She also suggests that open spaces such as break out rooms and informal meeting hubs help relax the hierarchical restrictions and encourage an atmosphere of inclusivity, freedom, and expression. While this is true theoretically, it ultimately depends on each company culture, nature of the business, and the individuals involved.

Interior design expert & consultant Indu Varanasi also believes in a similar idea. She feels that the verdict is still to be delivered on open design spaces and productivity. "The design of each office is different, with a balance of acoustically controlled spaces and open collaboration areas. Requirement determines usage patterns of either space," she explains. Rather than the layout, she feels that the careful selection of materials (depending on their sound absorbency) and optimizing the space to serve its desired function is more effective.

Effect of region-specific preferences on productivity

The culture, climate, and lifestyle of every region vary significantly. Hence, it is no surprise that the regional culture and lifestyle will also affect the office culture and work system. The differences in culture and environment mean that the ideas and norms common in Scandinavia will not work in Southeast Asia. An interior design expert and mentor, Priya suggests that planning, structural limitations, and material sourcing are some of the main factors in regional variations in workspaces across the world.

The effect of colors

She also mentions that color preferences also vary across different regions. This can range from the subtle tatami hues to vibrant and bright topaz greens. It influences how clients and workers view the space. For example, adding elements such as plants near the pantry or recreational areas set the mood. This will also affect the energy levels of the employees.

Privacy and quiet spaces

The designer Indu also stresses on the importance of assessing the norms of privacy and client interactions in a particular region. She further explained that even though globalization has evened out the design of most spaces, specific client requirements and the local cultures continue to play a significant role. Quiet spaces and private areas are still mostly dependent on the local culture and highly sensitive to the specific business requirements.

Cost-effective ways to improve business productivity within the current office plans

Minimize clutter

Indu strongly believes in the ideas of modernist architect L. Mies Van der Rohe: Less is, indeed, more! Priya also believes in minimizing clutter to maximize the efficiency of the existing space to increase the workflow. She suggests simple steps like carving out open communal areas for recreational purposes, using creative furniture arrangements, and slight variations in the room lighting. She also believes that introducing green elements and checking out color consultations can affect the atmosphere and set the workspace's ambience.

Indu stresses on the importance of general precautions for the maintenance of basic hygiene. She explains that the productivity of employees also relies on the physical and mental health of the workplace. She stressed on a clutter-free workspace with minimal or no unnecessary stationery. This means regular cleaning, sanitizing work desks, and cleaning other elements such as carpets, air conditioning ducts, and filters.

To set up a consultation with our expert mentors, book a FREE session with:
Indu Varanasi
Priya Telavvane

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To set up a consultation with our expert mentors, book a FREE session with:
Indu Varanasi
Priya Telavvane