Where do you go if you want to enjoy your lunch break away from your desk? Do you head to the designated staff room, where you reheat your soup in the microwave, sit at the table and chairs or relax for 15 minutes on the armchair or sofa?
For many of us, that is the reality of staff facilities in the work environment. However, things are definitely changing for the better as businesses look to transform the modern workplace so that their employees enjoy going to the office, working and socialising with colleagues.
There are myriad factors that influence how we approach interior design, not least reflecting the changes in how office space is used. As more businesses focus on hot desking, agile working and fluid spaces, our focus is on making the office welcoming, not utilitarian. We are re-thinking how offices work.
Rather than the traditional staff room, there is a growing demand for break-out areas that allow staff to think and work quietly on their own, recharge their batteries, or just chill for a while. These are especially important if the office is open plan because they help to break up the monotony of the space, but crucially they work in both formal workspaces and more casual ones.
The same goes for collaborative spaces. These are more than just meeting areas; they are places where staff can work together in comfortable surroundings - think comfy sofas, large screens and whiteboards.
A recent survey by Equiem, published in Property Week, revealed that office workers had quite the wishlist when it came to the ideal office environment. It focused on services, experiences and fitness activities.
Respondents were keen to have food deliveries to their desks and dry cleaning pick-up services and it was interesting to see that 60% of respondents said they wanted store rooms or Amazon lockers installed for parcel deliveries. This clearly recognises that as more people shop online, they need to be able to take delivery of the items when they are not at home.
Similar numbers of people also expressed interest in having on-site access to massages to get rid of those knotty shoulders. In addition, 54% said they would like to have regular health checks while at work. They also said they wanted to be able to go to a gym, fitness classes, yoga and bootcamps in their offices.
These are requests that our clients are increasingly making. One of the projects we are working on - at Lyndon House, Hagley Road, Edgbaston - includes a designated gym for office workers. We’ve also discussed the possibility of introducing store rooms/Amazon lockers for other fit-out schemes we’ve worked on.
It is clear that there’s a growing emphasis on the wellbeing of staff at work - and this is to be applauded. While people are working harder than ever, we maintain that it pays to reward them with smart spaces while they are in the office for eight or more hours a day. From good lighting to dedicated areas where you can recharge, thinking about the modern office will not just make people want to come to work, it will encourage them to work productively.