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20 July 2016

HOK’s Curtis Knapp and Kay Sargent Discuss Top Trends in Workplace Design

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Curtis Knapp and Kay Sargent highlight the latest design trends and innovations in the workplace with GlobeSt.com.

Curtis Knapp is the director of HOK’s global consulting group and Kay Sargent, ASID, IIDA, LEED AP is a co-director of Strategic Accounts with Gordon Wright. The three senior leaders direct HOK’s continuum of workplace design and consulting services.

What are the hot trends in office design today, including tech innovations?

Kay Sargant of HOKKay Sargent: Today, we are no longer simply designing spaces. We are designing to support the business case of clients, and to engage and empower employees by creating an experience. Workspaces today have to be effective, energetic and flexible by offering a variety of settings and options to accommodate the workforce. Spaces also need to promote health and well-being.

Companies are looking to create genuine experiences to support a wide range of workstyles and worker profiles. HOK’s workplace design and consulting teams introduce research and science to help clients with decision-making instead of anecdotes and opinions.

Common themes today include nature: greenery and access to outdoor spaces; a balance of focus and collaborative areas; areas to socially connect; food-centric experiences; access to views, not just daylight; amenity-rich functions and services; options for standing, reclining and perching; lounge spaces, dens and libraries; walls for information sharing; integration and access to technology and power; and smart spaces where systems manage space.

How much is common area and how much is devoted to private workspace?

Curtis Knapp, Director of HOK's Consulting GroupCurtis Knapp: Over the past 20 years, we have seen a significant drop in private, enclosed and individually assigned “me” space. Averaging about 30 percent in the early ‘90s, the amount has declined to about 15 percent today. In many cases, there are no private offices in modern workplaces. As the percentage of assigned offices has declined, the amount of unassigned “me” space has increased in order to accommodate concentration work. Space designated for collaboration areas has also increased significantly during the past few years.

Workplaces created to support activity-based working (ABW) often are designed with focus rooms, phone booths and enclaves as unassigned workspaces that are accessible to all. The allocation of space in a typical ABW environment today is: work-centric (35-40 percent), meetings (20-25 percent), focus (20 percent), social (15 percent) and learning (5 percent).

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Are cubicles used at all or is there something else that has filled the private workspace configuration?

KS: High-paneled workstations or cubicles are no longer a viable solution for many clients. Today, companies are opting for a variety of alternatives such as fixed standing with stools for quick exchanges and touchdowns; fixed seated, low height or benching for teaming and interaction; adjustable height surfaces for task work; carrels for quiet or solo work; and enclosed enclaves averaging 80 to 100 square feet for focused work.

What have you seen in an office space that was included to wow employees or an especially impressive reuse project?

KS: We have seen everything from slides and food trucks to nap pods and kegs on tap. Most people appreciate far simpler things, such as outdoor spaces, great coffee, seamless technology and areas to refresh.

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Where do you see designs going in the next five years?

KS: We are seeing a move away from flat, white corporate spaces to more vibrant, blended office designs that mix in residential, academic and hospitality elements. Going forward, the convergence of spaces will continue but be designed to support more balance with clarity and less chaos.

Space will become more human-centric, promote well-being and mindfulness, and enable people to work in a variety of ways. Co-working space will evolve to provide a multitude of options tailored to work styles and industries. The corporate office will be designed to become an experience center.

This interview was reprinted courtesy of GlobeSt.com.