If you’re wondering what the office of tomorrow looks like, two local office designers suggest looking at the trendsetters of today.
And if you do, you might include Chad Buckmaster’s office space. He’s the CEO of Carlsbad-based Processing Point, which provides software and hardware for small and midsize businesses.
Buckmaster hired Tamara Romeo, founder and CEO of San Diego Office Design, to integrate an empty warehouse into a bigger office space and tear down the walls that separated Processing Point’s hardware folks from its software developers.
“We were looking for a more open space and a Google-ish environment,” Buckmaster said.
The days of an individual employee operating from a private cubicle with a fixed PC-supported device, scheduling meetings in large conference rooms and striving for the coveted corner office are quickly becoming yesterday’s news. Instead, when office design experts are asked about tomorrow’s workplace, the conversation generally involves topics such as communication, culture, flexibility, mobility, health and collaboration.
To those ends, particularly communication, culture and collaboration, Processing Point’s new office features whiteboards on every wall to encourage brainstorming, a working lounge with video games, a lunch lounge and more.
“The productivity is a lot higher now,” Buckmaster said. “It’s more open. A lot of technology employees are looking for that type of environment.”
Appealing to Millennials
In a recent study of more than 20,000 workers around the world, commercial real estate company CBRE Group Inc. found people already spend less than 50 percent of their work time at their individual work area. About of a third of their time was spent in meetings and collaborative settings.
“Successful companies like Zappos, Google and Starbucks are setting the tone for the workspace of today and tomorrow,” Romeo said. “It has become a template, especially for young companies to build out their workspace.”
Deborah Elliott, president of workplace design specialist company ID Studios Inc. in Solana Beach, said there is a clear trend to appeal to millennials. Besides embracing social media, networking and an open environment that fosters collaboration, in many organizations, they are the people who will occupy leadership positions in tomorrow’s offices.
“When we enter discussions with clients, we talk about who will be in the office 10 years from now,” Elliott noted. “If you get into a new lease and hire millennials, this generation is creative, ambitious, tech-savvy and has a low requirement for privacy.”
Mobility Within the Office
When Romeo and Elliott initially meet with clients, the discussion typically revolves around gaining a better understanding of their culture, mission, strategy and identity. All of these factors play a pivotal role in designing the right environment.
“We really focus on the brand identity of the client’s space, their vision and how it is unique in the marketplace,” Romeo said. “We look at the company website, their marketing materials and messaging, and try to make those things come alive in the office environment.”
The explosion of new digital devices that enable users to connect, collaborate and communicate from anywhere has direct implications for businesses and the design of the workplace.
That translates into predictable trends, Romeo and Elliott said, with the top one being mobility.
“We will see more work areas that are reconfigurable with flexible work zones where people can work from their desk or move to a lounge area or brainstorm on a collaborative table,” Romeo said.
Free to Choose
Open spaces designed with a blend of furniture, including comfortable and variously sized chairs and tables where people can move around freely and choose whether to sit privately or on a bench with others, are also gaining popularity.
“You take a space that is available for a specific amount of hours, which has changed from past generations where you had a designated workspace with family photos,” Romeo said.
Furnishings will accommodate technological devices as well.
“A chair isn’t just a chair any more, but also a place to plug in your laptop,” Romeo said. “Conference tables and meeting tables have integrated plug-in solutions. It is the trend to give people as much power as possible without having cords everywhere.”
An Office With No Name
Accounting firm Moss Adams LLP in Kearny Mesa has been in discussions with Elliott at ID Studios since last September on how to translate the firm’s vision and culture into a new office design, said Carisa Wisniewski, Moss Adams’ office managing partner.
Moss Adams is also embracing the idea of office spaces that are dedicated to no one with a diverse design where people can choose to sit on a couch as a group for mentoring or come in and select a workspace that fits their needs on any particular day, Wisniewksi said.
“When someone says I’m going into my office that means that the elevator door opens and that person will decide then what they will need according to what you’re working on now or whatever people you’ll be working with,” Wisniewski said.
“It’s a big change,” Elliott said. “But I think people will gravitate toward that mix.”