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Redesigning office workspaces

Many organisations are developing spaces in their offices to facilitate new ways of working. Spaces with particular relevance to hybrid ways of working include video conferencing enabled meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, informal “touchdown”/breakout areas, quiet areas and acoustic pods. The general rationale behind these additions to the workplace is to provide spaces complementary to home working and suited to the specific needs of different tasks employees undertake.

It marks a move away from the individual’s desk being the default base for most tasks, in order to facilitate hybrid and in-person collaboration, social interaction, private conversations and concentrated individual work.

Space switching

Flexible offices commonly adopt an activity-based design where occupants are given the options of different spaces to choose from, depending on their tasks. However, while some workers adopt a working style with space switching as a habit (e.g. using a sofa for light work, pods for concentrated work and breakout areas for social interactions), more people tend to use a fixed space for working during the day. “Office nomads” tend to enjoy office designs with various spaces while the people who work mostly at their desks see less benefits from an activity-based office design. When space switching becomes a necessity (e.g. a private call requires acoustic isolation), some may see the need to move a burden or hassle, despite the dedicated space being more conducive to the task.

Operating desk areas

Many organisations have introduced hot-desking or desk sharing in their offices. Reasons behind this decision can differ: e.g. for COVID-safety (socially distanced seating), for higher space efficiency in low occupancy office (reducing individual desks), or for a more flexible use of the office spaces (activity-based design).

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