Office design in the UK is often influenced by trends in other countries. From the introduction of the first open-plan work spaces to the rise fun and quirky environments, modern office design is inspired by practices from Europe, the USA and beyond.
This BBC article looks into the open-plan office and its popularity across the world. It first came to the UK after being used in Germany in the 1960s. It followed the principle of ‘Burolandschaft’, which means office landscaping, and was a move against the top-down office style popular in America at the time.
It soon caught on across Europe, even though it has changed somewhat over the years following criticisms of the model. In the 1970s, for example, various countries including Germany and Sweden moved away from office landscaping, and these days they follow more cellular designs that provide workers with greater privacy.
But in the UK and the USA, open-plan offices remain the standard. This is more often than not due to the cheaper costs of open-plan offices compared to offices where everyone has their own private space. But they also offer other upsides to workers.
We are also seeing more and more organisations take steps to improve office spaces and to make them more productive environments by providing employees with what they want. Indeed, the latest trends are changing the very idea of what an office should be.
Google, Facebook and other tech titans have been responsible for bringing about this change. Their offices are characterised by brainstorming areas, exercise machines, games rooms and spaces to relax – a far cry from the stuffy and uncomfortable offices many workers are familiar with.
Other types of companies outside of the tech space are now following suit. Gocompare’s office in Newport, Wales has a room inspired by Coronation Street legend Hilda Ogden as well as a disco inspired room to help employees get into the groove.
And just look at some of the offices featured in this article on Business Insider. From Splunk (where employees hold their meetings in a train carriage) to Red Bull’s Soho office (complete with a roof terrace and a slide), companies are revolutionising the workspace.
While the standard open-plan office may still be the norm, it is evolving – and it is sure to continue to keep changing as office design in other countries changes our idea of what an office should look like.
Work spaces will become more adventurous, focusing on enjoyment, relaxing environments and helping employees to feel more comfortable – with the end result being greater productivity and a happy, healthy workforce.