The world of work is changing fast to instigate a new set of trends focused on themes of creativity, conscientiousness and technology.
A cultural shift is taking place in the corporate ecosystem, encouraging businesses to harness a more innovative approach towards office design in order to attract and retain new millennial talent. This fresh generation of employee thrives on flexibility, technology and an environment that lends itself to their creative talent.
Steelcase Global Engagement Report shows that 88% of highly-engaged employees around the world have choice and control over where and how they work based on the task at hand.
The same report also records that 55% of employees in UAE have choice over where and how they work based on the task at hand, compared to the global average of 51%.
Xavier Fuchs, regional sales director at Steelcase, tells Commercial Interior Design that the UAE workers’ engagement and workplace satisfaction levels are significantly above global averages.
“Choice over where and how to work is no longer considered a luxury for a few employees, but instead a necessity for all, as data and materials are now helping leaders foster more memorable, personalised spaces, conducive to wellbeing and innovation,” says Fuchs, adding that the influences in workplace design are constantly evolving.
Steelcase design team, in partnership with its UAE-based dealer OFIS, has highlighted the four emerging influences, which are gaining traction and are set to shape workplace design in the coming year.
“Many managers, including myself, are now realising that work can happen everywhere in the office, not only at our desks,” says Ali Maarrawi, general manager at OFIS.
DESIGNING WITH DATA
The introduction of data in the work environment has added significant value to the conversation between designers and customers. Not only can sensors help organisations learn how often people are at their desks and what kinds of spaces will best support their people, but they can also help designers and organisations get to an appropriate design solution, faster. Steelcase’s new Smart+Connected tools collect and analyse information, and provide organisations with non-biased and meaningful insights about how their people work and how the workplace can help. This means designers are able to eliminate the fear of the unknown and make informed recommendations on whether everyone needs his or her own workstation or private office and whether more private enclaves and collaboration spaces would better serve the team.
DIVERSITY OF MATERIALS
As the workplace hosts a broader range of cultures and generations than ever, people are gravitating toward more natural, textured and residential-like materials. Today’s employees are comfortable with a variety of materials, colours and spaces, and enjoy a diversity of spaces which will allow them to find the one that’s the best fit for them. It’s about more than finding the right spot for different modes of work. Materials – and residential-type materials especially – create a sense of emotional well-being and help a broader audience find a place where they feel comfortable.
Biophilia, the principle that human beings have an innate desire to connect and bond with nature, is experiencing a resurgence because of the balance people need from the digital world and the benefits nature’s restorative qualities provide. Biophilic elements are making more of an appearance in dedicated rejuvenation and focus areas because people need the therapeutic connection with nature more frequently throughout the day.
Be it greenery, water features, materials, patterns and colours reflective of the outside world, Steelcase expects that designers will continue exploring new ways to manifest the restorative properties of nature in the workplace.
Technology is shortening the distance between the designer and the customer. People are so digitally connected; they are constantly developing and honing their personal design point-of-view. Visceral reactions to imagery found in social media feed and online can lead to the assemblage of a context that only fits people’s view. We “like” and “pin” what we’re drawn to, but then technology uses filters to provide us with more of our preferences, unintentionally narrowing our perspective.
This digital tribalisation changes the conversation between designers and their customers. Virtual reality and augmented reality will come to bear to bridge the gap between a designer’s holistic vision of the workplace and individual’s unique preferences. Worldwide revenues for augmented and virtual reality are expected to reach $162 billion in 2020, according to International Data Corp.
OFIS implements flexible working concept in its showroom
Moving away from a typical furniture showroom layout, Steelcase Learning and Innovation Center (LINC) in Munich was purposefully designed with an understanding of how learning, creativity and innovation interconnect. LINC demonstrates how the environments where people work can activate a culture shift by fostering a new set of habits, while giving customers a first-hand look at how space can have an impact on work. Working closely with Steelcase designers, OFIS furniture and flooring supplier and an authorised dealer for Steelcase in the UAE, is currently redesigning its 10,000 sqft flagship showroom in Dubai’s Oud Metha.
Ali Maarrawi, general manager at OFIS, comments: “Our design team is excited to be bringing the concepts of flexible working to our showroom, which will permanently house 40 employees, giving them freedom to choose where and how they work.
“All products on display will be used by our team in genuine, day-to-day working life. We feel that’s the best way to showcase the true value and benefits of our products. Furthermore, we can’t preach to our customers about the importance of ergonomics, human-centric or biophilic design if we’re not practicing the same values ourselves.”
The new OFIS space will promote flexibility and movement, allowing its staff to choose from a variety of different environments depending on their task, including multi-purpose meeting rooms, café and variety of smaller break-out areas.
Maarrawi continues: “OFIS has been supplying furniture and flooring products in the UAE for the past 33 years, but the way people work, collaborate and innovate has drastically changed in recent years. Many managers – including myself – are now realising that work can happen everywhere in the office, not only at our desks. With increasingly blurred boundaries between residential, hospitality and corporate interiors, we are now expanding our portfolio with a range of ancillary furniture to support these changes.
20% of UAE employees are highly engaged and highly satisfied with their workplace, as opposed to the global average of 13%, shows Steelcase Global Engagement Report.