Shifts in office design trends

Shifts in office design trends

Kartik Punjabi of VPCPL on what goes into designing workspaces that are relevant in the present and can be adapted easily in the future

Kartik Punjabi, VPCPL, Office design, NTT Data Office, Bangalore, Star India, Hotstar

Space management is the keystone on which today all successful office interiors are built. In today’s real estate prices, space utilisation and management are the order of the day. Though, largely, space per person or area per person on the overall usable space has not changed in corporate infra standards over time, what keeps reinventing itself is the individual workspace and collaborative areas with supporting spaces surrounding them.

Cubicles have given way to linear desking now, which encourages teamwork and almost nullifies territorial identity of individual spaces. It creates openness in offices, is community friendly and gives rise to smaller enclosed spaces such as phone booths, two-seater meeting rooms for private working when required.

Currently, trends are not purely about density or space per person. The intent is to get the right mix of openness, collaborative spaces, individual rooms and formal meeting spaces. Take, for example, our recent project – the office for Star India in Bengaluru. Part of the office was laid out with linear open desks in an irregular manner, interspersed with variety of collaborative spaces to encourage creativity. It also had some recreational spaces in between. On the other park of the office, desks are laid out in a more regular fashion and have more enclosed meeting rooms. So, the functionality of the office remains intact by and large, while the flavour and style keep changing.

Culturally the shift today is towards creating more informal meeting spaces/ collaborative areas within the open-office layout to encouraging teamwork. Creative spaces, which are called by various names such as breakout area, informal meeting area, collaborative spaces and agile areas, have one goal — to be inviting, funky, infuse teamwork and brainstorming. While being informal, they need to encourage creativity.

In some offices, these take precedence like in our recent projects — Star India’s Hot Star division and in some cases in the NTT Data Office in Bengaluru. The break areas are tucked a little away from regular work zones to give privacy to both. Meanwhile, in the TCS office completed in Mumbai, the workstation itself is made agile to change and adapt into a meeting table and arena.

Flexibility in planning and operation with multi-purpose spaces is vital today. Cabin cultures have given way to open planning, remodelling, expansion and creation of different spaces within the office. To aid this, we build offices with access flooring. In Star India, access to wire management is easy for future changes. Multi-functionality is also achieved in our NTT Data Office with floor junction boxes that seat different sizes of teams/groups. The floor junction boxes also aid in providing different seating options in training rooms. Furniture in the training rooms is stackable and movable to aid different seating options. Keeping the need for growth, expansion and changes within the given space in mind, the designs are flexible, adaptable and modular. Even infrastructure facilities like UPS, today are planned modular to support future growth and are the key to successful office designs.

An emerging trend has arisen due to the speed with which fit-outs need to be implemented — Design and build. Clients turn to design houses to implement and build conceived designs. It saves the time of bidding processes and makes the design house accountable for the design. Simultaneously, the client is assured that what is visualised on paper is being translated into reality, as it is the single point of contact responsible for both design and build. In the conventional model of design – bid and build – too, the architect owns the responsibility of ensuring the designs get implemented, however, in case of design and build, the intent is implemented far easily.

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