Office fitout has come a very long way in a short period of time. When I was first plucked out of RMIT to work for a local design and construction firm in Melbourne, let’s just say whatever the ancient design trend at the time was, it would soon be over-run by the relentless and logarithmic impact of technology on to the world as we know it!
All the new forms of technology brought new trends and ways of working for business and people alike. The impact on office fitout and interior design was inevitable. However before we start throwing around the word trend, let’s just be cautious with our definition.
Trend vs Style – Trend is Seasonal, Style is Forever
Office fitout design isn’t exactly what should be seen as trend. While the glossy photos of chic breakout spaces, exposed ceilings and rose gold trimmings may be attractive to the eye that beholds, style is about being conscientious of future needs.
When I was a student architect, I cheekily asked one of our senior lecturers “Why do all architects wear black?”
The simple answer was that architects need to go from work, to site, to client meetings, to late night entertaining all in one day. Similarly, a workplace need to be just as flexible, ready to respond to future needs.
Why Melbourne Leads Office Fitout Design
Melbourne has always punched above its weight. We may not be the capital of Australia, or even the centre of focus from the world’s perspective but we:
- Hold the record for holding the position as the most liveable city for 7 years in a row
- Irrefutably the sporting capital of the world
- In the global inner circle of design, arts and coffee culture
Why? Because of strategic planning.
Melbourne had the benefit of urban planning, intentionally designing our city on the best principles of the time to build the foundations of our city that works. We accounted for sports and recreation which we would come to be one of our strongest cultural values that won us the right to host the Olympics in the 1950’s. Through innovative urban planning the City of Melbourne changed alcohol restrictions in an aim to bring life to our CBD, before apartment living in the city was an attractive option.
Being Strategic about Office Fitout Design
1. Transform sterile to stylish.
The empty shell office space is a sterile, fluorescent lit environment. Thoughtless layout and fitout leads to the work environments lacking inspiration that we know all too well.
Designers who approach design with consideration of flexibility, employee experience, happiness driving productivity and organisational expectations create workplaces that are vibrant in colour, inspire people to move and produce their best work.
Branding elements are sewn into the interiors as businesses impress upon clients and staff organisational values using the environment as a medium.
2. Understanding the needs of your workforce
Caring for your people has really been dialled up as a motivator for business success. The performance of your business is intrinsically linked to that of your team. Boost employee experience and happiness by: safety, wellness and ergonomic considerations ensuring your team works to its fullest potential and your business minimises the “time off”.
As our lives continuously change, agile workplaces become more relevant. These are designed to suit the specific management and ways of working for each unique business. If you are a Y Gen and earlier business owner or management executive, then you would innately understand the degree and speed of flexibility for a business is a matter of life and death. One of which traditional property or accommodation strategy was not able to come up with a reasonable solution for.
4. Work Life Integration (not Balance)
I admit, I am married to someone who still believes in work life balance, as if the relentless 24/7 ping of their phone doesn’t open their mind to the reality of a world where work and life in seperate and perfect balance will never exist.
Conscious control and flexibility (CCF) is where the fight will be won by each individual overcoming the impending future ways of working. When those who have CCF will see work as a place of comfort, somewhere to focus or a “home away from home” and those who don’t will be overwhelmed by uncontrollable cortisol hits to the system and live in an never ending world of alertness.
What is expected for the future?
Written by Bernie Fernandez, Director and Founder of Agero.