The latest movement in office design witnessed the increased popularity of the ‘balancing’ act. More and more corporations seek the art of equilibrium to create office space that supports their employees in all aspects of their lives. After the pandemic, the value of a “balanced workplace” is reflected through the changed priorities of people. Failing to adapt and design a correct balance for the office will cause business struggles and employees’ productivity and satisfaction to decrease long-term.
What is a balanced workplace?
Balance is defined as “a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportion”. In the working world, a balanced workplace promotes the idea of co-existence between all aspects of their lives – work, family, friends, personal values, and hobbies. A balanced workplace will reduce stress levels, prevent burnout, protect the well-being and ultimately improve performance.
Work-life balance has been a hot topic for workplace discussions for years. A good work-life balance means employees successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life.
Companies and organizations are devoted to initiating ‘work-life’ to adapt employment settings to the changing needs of the workforce, respond to government regulations and foster satisfaction at work. All-rounded and thoughtful office strategies have been designed to facilitate this type of balance.
For the past two years, the pandemic, lockdown and social distancing have further erased the line between personal lives and work. Home office and homeschooling are becoming the norm. Getting rid of one or two hours to commute to work, people save time to have breakfast with their families while still fulfilling their tasks on time. Also, employees can have more time for their weekend hobbies and enjoy their lives.
Striking a balance between work-life and office strategies has been taken seriously. The office layout is blended between open-plan and cubicles to foster a variety of needs of concentration and collaboration. The office is designed for employees’ mental and physical health with elements of nature, such as sunlight, green gardens, plants and flowers in the office, height-adjustable and comfortable seating. On-site gym and artworks are also featured in the floor plan to increase well-being throughout the working day.
A balance between office working and home working
Working from home is no longer a privilege but an option for employees nowadays. According to the research from McKinsey, 52% of employees prefer a more flexible working model post-pandemic, and 33% of participants are likely to switch their jobs if they are required to entirely on-site work. More than half of employees expect their organizations to adopt more flexible hybrid virtual-working models, which allow them to work on-premises and sometimes remotely at their preference. Employees with children under 18 years old are likely to prefer a hybrid working model.
Adapting to this new normal, workplace designers adopt designs that bring the home feeling in the office and enable them to take time out and relax. In addition, researchers found that when an office space aligns with employees’ self-image, it will enhance their sense of belonging and bring success to individual performance at work. Applying those philosophies, the fully-equipped cafeteria and comfortable break areas in our office design for Roche Vietnam create the home-from-home mental ambiance and visual effects for people.
The hybrid of work-from-home and on-premises accelerate the digital-ready office, where technologies and automation are at the forefront of office design. Companies increasingly focus on creating spaces that foster virtual collaboration and multi-channel communication. Take the project of Synopsys Ho Chi Minh as an example of a flawless blend of technology and furniture to enhance office workers’ comfort and productivity. State-of-the-art access control technology is applied in the areas that demand high security and privacy while interconnected with the remaining spaces.
Balance in locations
The location has always been important to the Office Design Strategy for organizations, as it will help attract and retain the best employees. They keep a close eye on where they’re based on optimizing work-life balance. Some organizations decide to locate their premises in the Central Business District, while others have their Headquarters in regional areas. For small businesses or start-ups, co-working spaces are the optimal choice. No matter where to locate the office, organizations should consider the ‘balance’ for employees.
Balance in ‘we’ & ‘me’ spaces
The revolution of office layout sees the transformation from a closed-plan layout with a visible divide between employees and departments to an open-plan with fewer divisions and physical barriers. This progress reflects the efforts of decades of organizations to find the balance between public and private workspace. This setting allows people to be constantly connected and reachable in both the physical and the virtual sense. That accessibility is the double-edged sword when people can feel connected but at the same time overexposed.
To balance the full spectrum of expressed needs, a good variety of areas will help to support the balanced workplace concept. Apart from desk stations, quiet zones for focused work and formal meetings are critical in post-pandemic modern office design. Those are the values Huynchi embraced in the brief of Philips office to accommodate collaboration and dynamic individual work styles.
A balance between corporate values and government policies
People’s expectations over their office have changed over the years, representing the preferences of different generations in the workplace and the movement of societies. An organization is typically composed of various ages, which have drastically different philosophies in what they want out of their workspaces. Gen Z’ers, so-called Digital Natives, have grown up speaking and breathing digital. While millennials still emphasize the importance of in-person meetings and sessions to learn physically, audibly, and digitally, most Gen Z teammates prefer to learn electronically. In contrast, Generation X and Baby boomers preferred quiet spaces and privacy. A balanced workplace accommodates and harmonizes the needs of specific groups, encourages sharing and develops a social network in the workplace.
Companies that satisfy the need for integration between work-life balance will create a unique competitive advantage, attracting and retaining the best talents. Office design evolves following the demands of people using it. The balanced approach in workplace design can help organizations deliver an effective and efficient environment for their employees.