The Future for Workspaces: Why Spatial Diversity is the New Open-Concept

During nearly two years of mandated remote employment, the traditional way of working was put under a scrutinous microscope.

With staff no longer confined to the office for eight hours a day, many employers worried that productivity was bound to tumble. 

But as it turned out, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

By and large, productivity remained steady among remote workers and, in many cases, even increased—along with employee satisfaction.

And there’s a simple explanation for why this happened: the conventional employee experience was inadvertently reinvented. 

With the onset of COVID-19, people were granted space to:

  • Independently evaluate how best to do their jobs
  • Identify the environments in which they thrive
  • Shape their approach to work according to when, where, and how they’re most focused and productive  

Suddenly, they could work outside with their coffee in the morning to get their day underway. 

They could transition to their couches to be comfortable as they wrapped up the day. 

They could take breaks to do things that re-energized their minds when they found themselves in a slump.

Whatever helped them achieve their optimal output, they could make it happen. And this level of control was a rarity only a few short years ago.

The Balancing Act of Bringing People Back to the Office

As the pandemic ebbs and flows and employers begin planning how to get their teams back into the office, an interesting thing has taken place: nearly 60% of people want to return part-time, while only 19% say they never want to go back.

And for those who oppose going back into the office, convenience and productivity are the two most precious concessions they’re worried about having to make. 

They find it harder to get work done in the space their workplace provides. And, as we acknowledge the importance of mental health within workspaces, there’s ample supporting research that employees need: 

  • A mixture of sensory deprivation spaces to reflect and plan post-meeting
  • The ability to move around hourly to stay focused and relaxed
  • Social spaces that also facilitate collaboration
  • Dedicated desk space. 

When viewed through that lens, the facts become clear: the appetite for in-office work exists. But the onus falls on employers to rethink their relationship with the workspace, how it impacts their people, and the role it plays in their business.

The Downturn of Open-Concept Workspaces

From rigid, regimented rows of desks offering easy oversight by managers to closed-off cubicles and eventually open-concept layouts, the office has undergone many iterations throughout decades past. 

And now, it seems the next stage of its evolution is imminent. 

As employees juggle their desire to return to the office with their new-found need to maintain control over their workday regimens, their workspace has become a powerful tool for empowering them to extract their highest level of performance. 

But, compared to their home offices, the standard open-concept workspace isn’t conducive to the kind of adaptable work style that people have become accustomed to.

This discrepancy makes it hard for the office to compete with working from home.

And it’s why, rather than dictating where and how people work, the future of the office hinges on inspiring people and providing intentional, purpose-driven spaces that allow them to work in whatever way suits them best. 

Rather than rigid, singular-use layouts, the office where people want to work—not just one where they’re forced to go—will provide the comforts and conveniences of home in tandem with the tools, amenities, and community they need to thrive.

Spatial Diversity Will Redefine How Employees See the Office

The spaces in which you work impact the way you perform. And the concept of spatial diversity embraces that fact. 

As opposed to open-concept offices packed with rows of desks, spatial diversity refers to offering a variety of spaces to accommodate different workstyles and needs, giving people ultimate control over their work experience.

Hard Spaces

Dedicated workspaces, otherwise known as “hard spaces,” offer people a personalized headquarters for their workdays. 

They provide them with a desk and chair of their own so they can safely store their equipment and belongings, infuse personal elements that make them feel at home, and engage in deep-focus work when they need to.

Soft Spaces

Optimal for informal meetings, colleague catch-ups, and comfortable work time, “soft spaces,” like lounge areas equipped with tables and comfortable furniture, allow people to emulate the variety they enjoy at home. 

When they need a break from their desk or want to connect with others in a less regimented way, soft spaces empower them with optionality. 

Private Areas

One of the greatest pitfalls of the open-concept office is a lack of private space. 

Whether it’s required to make a personal phone call, connect with a client to discuss confidential matters, or simply take a moment to digest the key takeaways from a meeting, these areas emulate the unparalleled privacy available to those working from home. 

Communal Spaces

Human beings are social creatures, and remote work is an incredible catalyst for isolation and loneliness. 

One of the fundamental benefits of spatial diversity is its focus on the importance of communal areas where people can socialize, network, and connect with one another in a casual and impromptu way. 

Spaces for Rest and Reprieve 

In a spatially diverse office, workspaces aren’t the only priority. 

Instead, the provision of spaces intended for rest and reprieve will allow people to imitate the re-energizing moments they experience when working from home. 

Supporting these moments through wellness facilities, outdoor spaces, and quiet areas for relaxation allows people to take a break and come back to their work with renewed focus and enthusiasm. 

Meeting and Collaboration Areas

There’s a strong chance that we won’t see every employee back in the office every day of the week going forward. 

Instead, it’s likely the future of work will be hybrid, leaning towards “shift work” rather than having all team members in the office full-time. 

In this capacity, the core function of the office will be to serve as a purpose-driven place where people can come to collaborate and connect on an as-needed basis. 

That’s why offering dedicated meeting spaces will allow employees to achieve what they need during their time in the office. 

For organizations that want to bring their people back for in-person work, finding ways to accommodate the needs of the modern worker is essential. 

Ultimately, there’s no escaping the truth: the pandemic changed things. Professionals have new demands of the companies they work for and new expectations of their employment experience. 

And they don’t want to settle for less. 

But there’s one fact that underpins the future of work: happy, productive employees create stronger organizations and better bottom lines.

So, businesses will benefit from empowering their people to take control over their own productivity and focus.

And that all starts with the workspace you provide for them.

If you’re in search of a modern, full-service, and flexible workspace offering the spatial diversity that will help your people thrive, join a professional community unlike any other that Vancouver has to offer. Book a tour of And-Co today.  

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