Modern offices today are more comfortable and home-like than the “cube farms” of the past. This may be a side benefit of Silicon Valley’s emphasis on fun workspaces that was embraced by companies like Google and Microsoft in the early 2000s. Today’s modern office has evolved into a more authentic work environment supporting company values and culture, fostering collaboration and productivity, and enhancing employee engagement.[1]

There’s a lot at stake for companies adopting a modern, authentic approach to their work environments. Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase released a global study that found a strong correlation between employee satisfaction with their work environment and their level of engagement.[2]

Interior designers are teaming with companies to create authentic physical work environments reflective of the organization’s leadership, employees and customers. They strive to understand and interpret the company’s history, mission and objectives. Color schemes and materials often mirror the company’s logo and branding and reinforce the company’s mission and values.

The authentic approach to interior design appeals to millennials who want to build careers with a sense of purpose and work for companies where they can make positive contributions.[3] Authentic design reflective of corporate values often helps companies recruit like-minded employees.

A key attribute of authentic office design is that it makes function a priority. Office space is comfortable and configured to employees’ needs, and technology is designed to be adaptable rather than fixed. The design approach strives to achieve the right balance of functional work spaces, collaborative areas, social zones, and easy access to technology and tools.[4]

Open floor plans incorporate inclusive spaces and encourage mutual support and interaction among employees. Brainstorming areas are placed centrally to increase creativity and interaction.

Many companies still mix open plan with private office configurations. However, more offices are incorporating open-facing executive offices that flow easily into lower-level employee workspace areas. This promotes more collaboration and openness while it flattens the hierarchy typically present in organizations.[5]

[1] “The New ‘Tech Office’: How Good Design Enables Better Customer Service,” by Kimberly Baba and Sarah Stanford, Perkins & Will blog, April 14, 2017. Available at: http://blog.perkinswill.com/the-new-tech-office-how-good-design-enables-better-customer-service/

[2] “Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace,” 2016, page 6. Full report and executive summary available for download at: https://info.steelcase.com/global-employee-engagement-workplace-comparison?hsCtaTracking=2e6040b8-aa19-4be9-af9f-2ef35a688edf%7C761fd20f-6ddf-4544-b048-c8119387da27#compare-about-the-report .

[3] “2017 Office Design Trends Forecast,” by Brigitte Preston, WorkDesign Magazine, Jan. 4, 2017. Available at: https://workdesign.com/2017/01/2017-office-design-trends/

[4] “The New ‘Tech Office’: How Good Design Enables Better Customer Service,” by Kimberly Baba and Sarah Stanford, Perkins & Will blog, April 14, 2017. Available at: http://blog.perkinswill.com/the-new-tech-office-how-good-design-enables-better-customer-service/

[5] “Top 4 Office Furniture & Design Trends for 2017,” NearSay blog from EvensonBest, March 9, 2017. Available at: http://nearsay.com/c/239127/225773/top-4-office-furniture-design-trends-for-2017

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