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Criteria for workspaces design

7 Februar, 2014
The human factor is becoming increasingly important in the design and planning of workspaces, in which prevail the comfort and welfare of workers, along with a rational use of resources and optimum utilization of available spaces.

The design strategies to develop new office projects or reforms will focus on:

  • Increase the quality of workspaces, which influences in health of workers and higher productivity.
  • Increase flexibility, creating spaces that suit the needs of the worker and not the other.
  • Be Institutionals, reflecting in workspaces the company values ​​and culture.
  • Follow concepts of Sustainability, with a design and policies that suit current requirements.
  • Cost optimization (not reduction), with better use of available surfaces and spaces.

A better design of workspaces motivates workers, increases productivity and reduces management and maintenance costs.

To create spaces that meet the needs of the company should consider:

  • Efficient organization of space, maximizing the available space, creating diaphanous and recognizable areas and reducing as far as possible the area of plant intended for circulation.
  • Provide the offices a wide range of services to the worker, cafes, rest areas, informal meeting rooms...
  • Spaces should be designed with functionality criteria, always adapted to the processes that take place in them.
  • During the life cycle of a building , about 80% of the costs associated with management are derived from maintenance and only 20% of construction. So it is much more economical choice durable finishes and high quality, in the initial stages of the process.
  • Well-designed offices, which the worker sits identified and satisfied, increase productivity and retention of talent.
  • Offer alternatives to the different needs of workers throughout the day: team work, individual work, concentrated work, privacy, informal meetings, breaks, confidentiality…
  • The idea of working anywhere and at any time or cultural diversity of workers, also brings to a new dimension the concept of workplace.
  • Rapid response to decreases or increases of staff and organizational changes.
  • Be different, the workspace must reflect the image and culture of the company. Use of warm or cold colors, noble or ephemeral materials, and many other features of the space determine how visitors and workers relate and perceive the company.
  • The spaces should facilitate communication, reduce hierarchies, increase flexibility, give priority to the cost / quality ratio...

In recent decades, the concept of sustainability has expanded its meaning, leaving the only reference to "natural" aspects, to incorporate social, economic and management elements. A more open view of sustainability concept would reduce the green footprint of buildings through policies related to workplace.

  • Tele-working, video conferences, satellite offices against centralized offices..., all are policies that would reduce emissions and increase the quality of the work environment for the worker, providing more flexibility and security to organizations.
  • In the workspace design should be considered criteria of efficient use of energy and resources and also the use of local and renewable materials.
  • From the design and during the management, maintenance procedures and waste management must be continually evaluated, to ensure comfortable spaces with the lower damage to the environment.

In European studies, 50% of traditional workplaces are permanently empty. More flexible use of space that allows better utilization of office area would imply better use of space and its consequent optimization of costs.

Working patterns have changed in the office, towards teleworking models, satellite offices and other concepts aligned with sustainability. Flexible office is a reality in strategies for workspaces in Europe and is the response to the concept of "flexible work". It is based on the continuous adaptation of the physical space, creating a menu according to the needs of workers: open workstations, closed, rooms for concentrated work or teamwork, informal communication areas or rest; and has a potential save of 30% in overall costs, with a total satisfaction of workers.

The main activities which "flexible office" design should enhance are communication and company culture. Increases profit by optimizing occupancy costs using only the space needed and being more flexible related to continuous changes. Increases productivity and employee retention with enhanced of the workspace quality.

At the time of designing workspaces on the flexible office model, it should be considered:

  • Promote informal meeting areas, both to enhance face to face communication as to absorb possible "peaks" of headquarters occupation.
  • Variety in types of spaces. The way we work has changed, and with it the needs of the worker that is why it should be incorporated new types of space such as concentrated workrooms, confidential workrooms, workstations in open spaces, meeting rooms...
  • Creating "neighborhoods" for every group to encourage membership to each one. Large areas of open work cause discomfort and are impersonal. Restrict the size of the open areas to approximately 50 people increases communication and fosters fellowship.
  • Increase of workspace quality and services offered. The main resource of today's companies are its employees so it is necessary to offer quality offices and spaces to keep them motivated and involved.

Source: Guía de criterios de diseño para los espacios administrativos de la UNED

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