It began with the paperless office, but the transformation of workspaces under the impact of new technology and new environmental concerns is still a work in progress. Some of the main outlines of the new workspace are becoming clearer, and they are green, focused on communications, and much more productive than the older versions. In fact, it’s becoming clear that a greener office, where workers are happier and healthier, is a more productive one.
Office managers and designers are bringing a central idea of green design to the workplace: the belief that what is good for the environment, is also good for people. Translated into office design and management, it means that efforts to bring more light and cleaner indoor air to work spaces will help office workers to perform better. They will be be more productive, more creative and more engaged.
The new technology is also making office spaces less hierarchical. Company heads and CEOs are no longer inaccessible and remote, but may circulate in shared work and lounge spaces. Casual conversations need no longer be water cooler gossip but brainstorming and networking opportunities over a cup of coffee or during a rooftop break.
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Cleaner indoor air and natural lighting are associated with creativity and the ability to focus. Workspace designers now attempt to bring in natural daylight as far as possible. Even in spaces with no windows, lighting that simulates the look and pattern of daylight is used. Indoor plants serve to brighten up any space, and that is one reason why office design now incorporates these. Plants also work as air filters and keep the atmosphere fresh and healthy.
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Equally important are the changes in workforce management. Employee recognition and appreciation go a long way in boosting motivation and job satisfaction. All of this goes to show that technology and green design are fully compatible, and both contribute to improved performance and happiness.