The History of Office Design

18 Jun

In the last 10 years the office design process has changed dramatically.

Office designs used to be made up of hand drawn, 2 dimensional floor plans, often based on the requests and desires of the decision maker, the employer or the board of director’s. Elements like the number of desks and storage space (i.e. bookcases, cupboards, pedestals and storage wall) would often take priority.  The design process was often very limited.

In many situations the office design process now is that all staff, the employer and employees put ideas forward towards the new office design, early on in the process.  Managers from other branches or departments can put forward office design ideas that worked well for them and a new environment is formed putting together all these elements.  These different ideas and inspirations are put forward to an office design company who translates them into offices designs that fit into the clients building.

The office design transition

This transition is due to a number of reasons; firstly the advancements in technology; the way many organisations are creating cultures similar to very successful companies like, Google; and lastly as new regulations are brought in that govern office designs.

Technology has changed office designs dramatically in the last 5-10 years.  Advancements in wireless technology now means that staff do not necessarily need set desks or to be ‘harnessed’ to workstations in the office, staff can now work in different areas and departments from one day to next, this has proven to be highly beneficial when working on various projects that requires different teams to be flexible and work closely with different staff on a daily basis.  Also the inventions of smaller hand held technology like smart phones and tablets have changed the sizes of our desks and the types of storage and accessories required too.

Every company has a culture whether it’s a, fun, happy, profitable, cutting edge or  innovative one is the question!  Hugely successful companies and in particular new successful companies have interesting cultures. Examples of these are Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zappos, Hubspot, Nike, … the list is huge. (List of the top 25 companies can be found here - An office design will directly affect the culture for for good or for bad and therefore the office interior environment should enhance or at least reflect the company’s values and culture.

New regulations have affected office designs over the years, with regulations in regards to fire safety and general well being in particular.  Local authorities, such as Manchester and Warrington have become more active in ensuring new builds and renovations meet strict criteria. These regulations have shaped our office designs and will continue to as governments create new laws like in Denmark where are employers are now required to provide their employees with height adjustable desks.