With the birth of new business models and technological advancements, the way we work has come a long way from the one-desk-based, 9am-5pm model.
According to a survey, business leaders at the recent Global Leadership Summit in London said that more than half of their company’s full time workforce will be working remotely by 2020. A full 20% said more than three-quarters will not work in a traditional office by 2020.
In addition, more workplaces will be designed based on a key workspace trend called activity-based working (ABW), according to Workstyle Lab, a workspace research institution within the Kokuyo Group, a Japanese office furniture design company.
“ABW gives employees the freedom of where, when and how they work. It empowers employees to work at their own pace, delivering results in an environment they thrive in,” explains Yuki Kanamori, chief researcher at the Workstyle Lab.
“Whether one needs a solo working space to ideate, or to have a discussion with colleagues in a pop-up meeting space, or even to have a casual conversation in a community setting, Kokuyo has gleaned insights from trends globally and created signature office furniture to support this.”
The purpose, he adds, is not just the freedom but to promote better productivity from employees too.
“For example, if an employee works from home, he or she saves the time and hassle of having to commute to and from work,” says Kanamori, when met at the Kokuyo office in Kuala Lumpur recently.
(Main image above is of the Interval, which resembles a standalone cubicle with a seat-table ensemble to support employees who choose to have an enclosed, semi-private relaxing space to focus on their work. Photo: Kokuyo)
Kokuyo is a Japanese company that began in 1905 by producing general ledgers. Today, it is a listed company and a leading household name in Japan when it comes to designer office furniture and stationery. The KL office opened about six months ago and last month introduced some of the company’s signature pieces.
Kokuyo also produces a bi-annual magazine called Worksight, which talks about the working styles of people and their companies.
“Our main methodology of research is by observation. We visit office spaces all over the world, look at the reality out there and see the latest trends,” he says.
Kanamori adds that today, office space is just one choice of workplace and people can work from home, a cafe, or at co-working spaces, which is also fast becoming a trend worldwide.
However, although more people will be working remotely in the future, not all types of businesses can do that, and the office space is still relevant and necessary.
“But there is a better way to work within that space, and we help office designers pick out work settings, combine them and make it easier for them to have a more productive workspace,” explains Kanamori.
For example, the Inframe is a design that is ideal for meetings in an open space. It is easy to set up and move about, with the use of soft partitions for exclusivity and style.
Citing examples of successful workspaces in Europe, Kanamori shares that ABW is ultimately not only about promoting the well-being of the employee, but also encouraging community.
“From what we have observed at various successful work spaces, a large number of corporations are now sitting alongside tech startups, freelancers and digital nomads in collaborative environments, as that is the fastest way of up scaling or creating innovation.
“And the role of the workspace is so important, as openness, community and a sense of purpose is driven within them,” he adds.
Another example is Notion, an armchair with a spacious seat, comfortable back support, and most uniquely, side wings to block out unwanted noise and distractions.
“Sometimes you just need a quiet space and to get away from people, and the Notion is perfect for that,” says Kanamori.
For an even more private space, the Interval offers yet another option. The standalone cubicle is a seat-table ensemble to support employees who choose to have an enclosed, semi-private relaxing space to focus on their work.
It also comes with built-in charging ports.
One of the brand’s latest designs is its ING 360° Gliding chair, which is akin to sitting on an exercise ball.
“Sitting in one spot for long hours is not healthy, not good for the back and it could lead to a lack of blood circulation. So we introduced the ING which allows one to sit while making small gliding movements to help encourage blood flow.”
Another offering is Brackets, designed by well-known Japanese design firm Nendo. It can be fitted with a TV monitor and the sofa comes in different configurations for different functional uses, like small meetings.
The Collesso sofa system is another interesting design that comes with stand-up desks and side tables to improve communication and work settings. Seats have space in between to offer privacy to different users while the desk and tables are fitted with anti-slip materials.
Days Offices reminds you of a cafe setting or a nice kitchen counter. Employees can have their lunch or snacks and coffee there, with space for their laptops or notes. Naturally, it comes complete with charging stations and high bar stools.
“Attracting quality talent means that companies are required to change, to no longer tether their people to a desk, but allow fluid movement. Whether it be hot desking, collaborative spaces, or individual spaces, there is a need for the workplace to have suitable flexible furniture to support ABW as well as the well-being of an employee,” says Kanamori.