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Challenges in Workplace Design - Part I

What does the workplace you create say about you?

The office space has evolved into more than a place where employees perform their professional activity: it now represents the brand and image of a corporation. New jobs are constantly being created because the nature of the traditional organization has changed dramatically in recent years. The evolution of technology and consumers' changing behavior alters the missions of  many organizations, as well as the links between them. We currently live in a very connected world where people have become “more and more mobile”. All these factors bring new challenges and opportunities in as far as the workplace design is concerned.

When it comes to an office building, the location is one of the most important factors when deciding to choose it. But when it comes to the office space itself, people want as much flexibility as possible. It has become difficult to estimate the number of employees in a company for the next 2-3 years, and it is even harder for longer periods of time. Therefore, to create flexible spaces, each sector should offer solutions to support this feature, from design to construction and furniture. We estimate that more and more smart options will emerge to create the flexibility that employees need. To achieve the desired level of flexibility, time and resources need to be invested to understand the organization and to come up with solutions that ensure an optimal workflow. 

There are different points of view about the level of employee productivity and collaboration when considering the open space. The main trend now is to adjust this area by integrating adjacent spaces: small meeting rooms, areas that encourage collaboration, relaxation oases or phone booths - which have become increasingly popular. There is a wide variety of pieces of furniture designed to meet the needs of acoustic and visual intimacy. The project team, that includes both architects and stakeholders, should collaborate well enough to give an effective office design direction that takes into consideration the culture, people and the physical space requirements and that supports the types of activities performed at work.

Healthy people are dynamic and the human body is made to enjoy both movement and rest. Any extreme can be damaging. As a result, it is better to have a variety of places from which you can easily choose and where you can work either sitting or standing. Thus, employees are encouraged to keep a balance between the risks of bad posture and physical comfort at work. 

As employees feel that it is important to work for a company whose culture is aligned with their personal values, authenticity has become an important component of every organization. Employees value transparency and honesty from their leaders, so these need to be reflected in the physical design of the office. At the same time, companies must be honest with themselves and think about how they want to promote their values within the organization.

When an office is set up in a unique and authentic way, employees are more creative and inspired by the work environment. Teams search for increasingly unique pieces and handicrafts. Despite the easiness of online acquisitions, many interior designers continue to attend specialized shops and visit showrooms or factories. Proper culture cannot be created only through the workplace alone, so authenticity should be boosted both by the workplace design and company policies.

We are constantly overwhelmed by information and data. As the newest and best elements that can be integrated into the work environment continue to appear, we might be tempted to naturally choose the known, safe path.

The basic human needs, according to Maslow's pyramid, are the physiological ones – those related to water, air, food, shelter, sleep – followed by safety and personal security needs. Thus, if you want to use the latest trends in office design, it is important to start from an analysis of needs. This process can act like a compass that will align employees' expectations and can also be a validation tool for the employer's efforts. 

Flexibility, authenticity and primary needs represent just the tip of the iceberg. In the second part of our article, we will explore the reasons why wellbeing and technology are important attributes of a pleasant, successful and innovative workplace.

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Ramona Ionescu

Senior Associate


Ramona joined the Office team of Colliers International Romania in Q1 2015 after 3 years of experience in Architectural Design and Project Planning of large scale retail, residential and office, real estate projects.

Prior to joining Colliers International Romania, Ramona worked as an architect for different companies such as DD Design Studio and  Aerolab Architectural Design in China. She coordinated the architectural design and was involved in the implementation of various projects.

As an architect, Ramona has also designed the “Lipton House”, the guest house that took part in Lipton’s first local brand campaign.

She implemented BOMA standard (2010/2017) or specific measurement (e.g.: IPMS) of commercial surfaces for several Landlords, summing up to a Gross Leasable Area of around 1 mil sqm in Class “A” Office Buildings in Bucharest, Iasi , Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca.

She also was involved in the green certification process of several office buildings and shopping centers in Bucharest and in secoundary cities in Romania. 

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