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Workspace Design Drifts

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India is one of the largest office occupier markets in Asia. This, combined with the changing work styles, work culture and mobile technology is powering an unprecedented focus on new workplace designs. Colliers International India survey based report identified the latest trends in terms of design, area, furniture and accessories among corporate occupiers.

Workplaces are opting for open and flexible environments. Seniority still matters, however cabins are giving way to large-sized private cubicles for senior management. While teams are located in, and are operating in open office spaces, quiet areas and privacy can be found as and when required in designated meeting spaces. At the same time, collaboration spaces located near work groups are also trending.

What’s more, there is a greater focus on creating more efficient and cost-effective workspaces, so design strategies are playing key roles in accommodating more people using less space. Office furniture is getting smarter. Ergonomics is increasingly becoming the key consideration, from selection of chairs to smaller, smarter storage accessories and mobile storage units to writable wall surfaces.

The Drivers

Collaboration & space efficiency are the key factors driving workplace design. More and more clients are moving towards flat organizational structure and open-office plans. Therefore, hierarchy, tenure, and seniority are now a lower priority in deciding the workplace design & allocation. There is an increasing trend of senior management moving in to open workstation culture or sometimes shared cabins but still get more space with guest seating capacity, to meet their functional requirements. Quite of few organizations still have cabins for the senior management, which are typically 90 to 110sqft in size however, the size can be as large as 150sqft for the CXOs. In pursuit of using workspace more efficiently, some companies are even using hot-desking where multiple workers using a single physical work station during different time periods.

Open is in

Walls are coming down and workplaces are trending towards open and flexible environments. Open dynamic spaces have directly contributed towards a positive change in work processes and office culture in many organizations. However, the nature of work greatly influences the choice between open plan and enclosed office plan. There has been a general shift from closed office plans to open office culture, although companies in sectors like banking, legal & consulting etc. are transitioning much slower than other sectors.

Islands and oases

Collaboration is the seeding trend in workstation designs in India. While, the collaborative spaces are important to make well-integrated teams, the need for quiet and private spaces is also a fundamental requirement for most organizations and is fulfilled through individual work booths or separate conference rooms.

Companies are acknowledging that there is a direct correlation between workplace design and productivity. Decision makers are proactively modifying their workplaces to foster creativity, teamwork, employee retention and productivity.

Ergonomics and Economies

The seven potential selection criteria for office furniture and chairs are – lead time, brand, price, ergonomics, quality & durability, flexibility & mobility and sustainable design. Out of these, flexibility & mobility, price, quality & durability and ergonomics are the top four factors across all companies. Sustainable design, brand and lead time have the least impact on decision.

With average employees spending 8 to 10 hours in office, ergonomics seems to be one of the key selection criterion. From their past experiences, organizations are realizing that the use of less user-friendly chairs has impacted productivity and have become increasingly aware of this factor while selecting chairs for their employees. Most of the corporations are currently using chairs having medium height with mesh finish, multiple-point locking, adjustable armrest and lumbar support.

Quest for cost efficiency

Efficient space utilization for cost efficiency to achieve optimum ROI is one of the key drivers for the selection of workstation typology. However, not at the cost of functionality and collaboration. L-shaped workstations remain the favored typology among occupiers for their overall functionality. The typical workstation measure is 20-30sqft in large corporate workplaces. Linear layout is trending up due to its efficiency in space density. Earlier it was primarily used in the service industry comprising of KPOs, BPOs and Call Centers but now Consultancy & BFSI sectors are increasingly moving towards this layout.

Smaller, Smarter Accessories

Offices are moving towards smart furniture and accessories. Generally workstations have fixed or mobile pedestal units for personal storage and two door cabinets in common areas for common storage, smarter accessories like writable wall surfaces, white boards and soft boards are trending.

The idea of using separate lockers for personal storage over pedestal units is yet to catch on, barring a few call centres and BPOs which have multiple working shifts. Though for personal storage, the two-door cabinets in common areas are being replaced by compactors which is mobile shelving storage systems where storage units are mounted on mobile trolleys, thereby eliminating unproductive aisles. Also, other components and accessories in modular furniture industry are seeing evolution to adapt to changing company priorities. For instance the partition/ screens between workstations are becoming lower, allowing eye contact between employees or in many cases demountable screens are used to allow flexibility. Filing pedestals for the employees have also been adapted to be mobile cushion top pedestals in many cases, to facilitate collaboration between employees and also reducing load on enclosed meeting spaces.

Collaboration is the name of the game in workstation designs in India. Recent trends include opening up of floor plans, trendy break out areas and cafes, as well as ergonomics focus. However, cost still remains a major concern for decision makers.


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