Wold Blog Graphics Spring 24 4

Creating tomorrow’s workplace: Design strategies for ongoing transformation

The dynamics of the workplace are undergoing a profound transformation. The way space is viewed and used has changed, especially over the last few years. More than ever, the answer to how an office should be designed is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Organizations’ priorities and values have shifted, resulting in a reevaluation of their work environments. Whether our clients operate in traditional in-person office settings, fully remote environments or embrace a hybrid approach, and whether they prefer traditionally assigned workspaces or flexible free-addressing (hoteling) setups, we’re working with them to actively explore the most effective ways to align their current workspaces with their future visions.

At Wold, we’re dedicated to helping guide our clients toward the workplace strategy that meets their vision and goals for their unique culture. Some clients are taking advantage of reduced overhead costs by downsizing or transitioning to fully remote operations, while others are eager to bring employees back into the office. Regardless of the situation, our goal remains the same: to create inviting spaces that align with each client’s ultimate objectives. In this blog, we explore how our approach to and conversations around design align with the shifting landscape of both traditional and hybrid work environments.

Traditional in-person offices
Many of our clients whose employees are in-office full-time are exploring ways to optimize their existing spaces without substantial investments in renovations or new furniture. For example, we recently worked with Meeker County, Minnesota to improve their existing Courthouse and Family Services buildings without needing to invest money into new furniture and workstations. We provided the recommendation to recycle and reuse existing furniture, while reconfiguring and updating it in a way that aligned with a more modern aesthetic and working style. Ultimately, the county created the desired work environment for its employees while meeting their budget.

Education plays a large role in reimagining existing traditional office spaces. Workstations have evolved from corner offices and simple desks within cubicles to activity-based spaces aimed to give employees more flexibility and autonomy. We often work with local furniture vendors to understand what configuration options exist, allowing us to provide better recommendations on maximized workspace layouts. For example, in Steele County, Minnesota, our team emphasized communal spaces over traditional offices to allow for more efficient use of square footage. We shared the various workstation layouts available that best utilized their open-concept office space, providing their community corrections staff with an environment that can adjust and grow with the organization well into the future.

Hybrid working environments

On the flip side, there are organizations that embrace a hybrid model, allowing employees to work remotely. In these instances, we help clients personalize their spaces to optimize hybrid work. Our team helped design a $25 million remodel of the City of Minneapolis City Hall, where all departments had the autonomy to choose the most effective service delivery model - whether in-person, fully remote or hybrid. The majority of departments opted for a hybrid model, requiring staff to be in person three days a week. In alignment with their policy, our design approach involved creating individually assigned workspaces for each hybrid employee. While personal workspaces were a key focus, we also recognized the need for collaborative areas and dedicated focus spaces to facilitate virtual meetings with remote colleagues. This holistic design solution ensured that each employee enjoyed a designated workspace while accommodating the need for seamless virtual collaboration.

Whether we’re designing for a fully in-office setup or a hybrid working environment, our team takes into account the client’s values and culture, which ultimately determine the space needs. Regardless of the situation, there are several design strategies to consider to accommodate future transformation, including:

Fostering inclusive design

A diverse and inclusive workplace is crucial for fostering innovation and ensuring equal access and opportunities for all. Designing spaces that are accessible, inclusive and reflective of diverse perspectives and abilities is vital. This involves creating barrier-free environments, providing inclusive amenities such as automatic doors in multiple locations, hands-free sensors that operate doors and restroom fixtures, clear and intuitive signage/wayfinding and privacy restrooms, and considering cultural nuances in design to ensure everyone feels welcome and valued. For example, the City of Minneapolis City Hall remodel included prayer and meditation rooms within the office, providing its employees with dedicated spaces for their specific needs. Learn more about four of the most common design elements that create more accessible and inclusive government buildings here.

Creating adaptable and flexible designs

Tomorrow’s workplace demands flexibility to accommodate different tasks and work preferences. Designing spaces that can easily adapt to changing needs is crucial, especially as technology continues to evolve. This involves incorporating modular furniture, flexible or open layouts and movable partitions that allow for quick reconfigurations. Designing for flexibility allows room for future growth and provides staff with the spaces needed for both collaborative and focused, individual work. For example, dedicated phone or Zoom rooms allow employees to privately connect with virtual coworkers or clients without disturbing those around them.

Wold has incorporated these strategies into the design of its own office environments. Recent renovations across our different locations have included the addition of increased opportunities for staff to step away from their desks. This addresses the need for privacy during virtual meetings and allows a variety of choices for how employees prefer to work. Specifically, the Illinois office created enclosed breakout spaces, ranging in size from 1-person to 5-person, to better meet the needs of their team.

Incorporating organizational culture

It’s important to create an office environment that supports or expands upon an organization’s culture. We believe an office space should reflect what’s most important. While we bring our unique expertise to each project, we work with our clients to determine their values and how they can best be incorporated into the design. What do they envision for the future? What aspects of their culture do they want to emphasize? We listen and base our recommendations on their responses to create a workplace that embraces the desired cultural goals.

At Wold, we’re asking ourselves the same questions to determine how we envision our own office space. Our team is discussing potential upgrades to our current spaces to better accommodate and integrate our culture. We’re exploring furniture configurations, determining how technology plays a role, finding options that support individual work habits in a flexible but consistent way and more. Ultimately, design should be determined by what matters most.

The future of work is evolving, and so too must the spaces where work happens. At Wold, we’re continuously collaborating with clients to ensure their future visions and goals are incorporated into each design. Whether you’re in-person or hybrid, fostering inclusive design, creating adaptable designs and incorporating culture will help transition workplaces into the future.

If you want to learn more about our experience and capabilities or need additional information about how we can assist you with your workspaces of tomorrow, please reach out to our team by calling 1-888-254-6789 or emailing info@woldae.com.

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