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Collaborative Work Spaces Top 2013 Design Trends

USA- Chicago, IL | Jan 7 2013 | (22:58:18 - EDT)

The coveted corner office is becoming a thing of the past, as companies look to level the playing field among all employees and focus on open, collaborative work space, according to Fitzgerald Earles Architects and Associates (FEAA) in Chicago. FEAA has more than 20 years of experience in commercial design and construction oversight and notes the following trends for 2013:

1. Companies are Moving Away from Premium Space for Executives—The traditional "corner office" layout that separates executives from the rest of the employee base is becoming passé.

Instead, companies want an office design that puts all employees on an even footing, with similarly sized space and equal opportunity for positioning near windows. Some companies are moving offices to the center of the floor plan, leaving the perimeter (and the windows and light it provides) for collaborative space that many employees can enjoy.

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This trend is driven in part by younger employees and business owners who don't identify with the traditional corporate hierarchy.

“We're seeing many companies looking for design solutions that fit the entire range of their employee base,” said Daniela Fitzgerald, AIA, managing principal of FEAA. “Collaborative environments and access to feedback are very important to Millenials. This is a reflection of the diversity of the current work force. Employers are striving to address the different values of Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials with well-designed, functional, efficient and engaging environments.”

2. Collaboration is changing office floor plan design and furnishings—As some companies move toward enhanced employee collaboration—on daily projects or periodic ones—this approach is changing the way office furnishings are designed and laid out. This can take the form of larger desk areas that fit 3-4 people instead of divided cubicles, lower dividers between desks and glass fronts on offices to encourage interaction and bring in light.

3. Natural Light and Windows are Defining Space Planning—Companies are realizing that adding access to natural light to all employees can improve morale and productivity. This trend impacts floor plan layout, as well as furnishings, office equipment, and lighting. This type of layout also allows for more daylight harvesting that can reduce reliance on electricity and reduce lighting costs.

4. Technology is changing space planning—With more and more businesses relying on telecommuting and/or operating Web-based businesses, office spaces are becoming more flexible and high tech oriented. Replacing full-time offices or cubicles are:

Touch-down Stations – A small station, be it a desk or work surface, primarily for a single person use. It's a place to plug in and power your laptop, access the internet etc. It can vary in size and is not always closed off from open office space.

One-on-One spaces– a small, enclosed room with enough space for +/- two people. It would offer the same amenities as a touchdown station, but it lends itself more to collaboration. Perhaps a small table or white board will be within the room. The space can vary in size but many are approximately 6'x9'.

Flex Offices – This would be a private office or series of offices that are not always occupied. They're used by visitors and/or traveling employees.

5. Office Décor Takes on a Hospitality Focus/Bright colors are moving into the office—When you think of office furnishings, the words "orange", "teal" and "poppy" might not come to mind. In today's design world, however, these colors are adding a hot new vibe to the workplace. The shift is creating a hotel/hospitality feel in many workplaces.

Fitzgerald Earles Architects and Associates (FEAA) has over 20 years of experience creating dynamic environments through architectural design, space planning, and tenant build-out services. The Chicago architectural firm also has an office in Schererville, IN.

FEAA works with clients all over the Midwest in the corporate, tenant development, healthcare, institutional, industrial and retail/hospitality sectors. Among its clients are Tishman Speyer Properties, Jones Lang LaSalle, Equity Office Properties, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc, Sterling Bay Companies, Golub & Company, Piedmont Office Realty, PNC Bank, NBC Tower, W.W. Grainger, Prudential Bache Securities and the Village of Hodgkins, IL.

Images Courtesy: Fitzgerald Earles Architects and Associates

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