If you had a choice, how would you design a perfect office space for your team? Should it meet the average employee expectations or rather individual needs? Or maybe both? Before you say “impossible,” take a look at this compelling concept of an “experiential office.”
Recent studies show that nearly half of the workforce is dissatisfied with the temperature in the office. More than half (51%) say they are less productive when it’s too cold, while for 67% it’s just as bad when it’s too hot (according to a survey by CareerBuilder).
In another survey from American Society of Interior Designers, nearly 68% of employees also complained about office lighting. They admitted that poor lighting made them tired and negatively impacted their quality of work.
A responsive office
So what if the office was responsive to individual needs? What if it “knew” what temperature or light was just right for you? That’s the essence of the experiential office concept.
“Experiential,” in a nutshell, means reactive to the human senses. Different people need different levels of lighting or airflow, thus an experiential office will adapt to their needs and remember the settings they choose for their particular workstation.
But above all, an experiential office will satisfy the need for variety. It will incorporate key design elements of the modern workspace: from coffee bars to lounge areas and standing meeting tables. And it will leave the choice up to people – they’ll decide whether they need a quiet room or a lively shared space, or whether they feel like going to the coffee bar downstairs. A recent study found that half of office workers worldwide need a change from working at the same desk every day. So it’s important to provide the variety of spaces, discuss the options with employees, and get the ratio of those spaces right. And this is where a new player comes in.
Tech-savvy office space
Technology is an important factor here. Today’s office needs to be smart. A high-tech elevator “knows” which floor you’re going to. A smart desk can adjust its height. Sensor data provides office managers with a better sense of people flow – for example, if a particular restroom or conference room is being used more than others, sensors can alert office managers to check status and replenish needed supplies.
But a workspace today isn’t just defined as a physical space. It also includes intranets and virtual collaboration tools. The concept of the experiential office should integrate both physical and virtual reality, which means, for instance, using a wide-angle lens for online meetings so that even those working remotely can have a better sense of involvement and see more than just their colleagues’ heads on the screen.
Not a museum
Experts have no doubt that the future belongs to offices that can truly attract employees. This doesn’t mean that the workplace should turn into an amusement park or a technology-packed space. An ideal office acts in the service of the people who work in it. It should be like a living organism, not a museum.
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