Where are workspaces heading?
Versatile and customised in line with each company´s philosophy, new workspaces combine compartmentalised and private rooms with open spaces and spaces for socialising, proving that there is no right or wrong solution when people are at the heart of them. New office models focusing on employees, healthy and inspiring environments, and coworking spaces as a tool for driving change, are the main trends that, according to the professionals that came together at the 4th edition of Workplace Strategy organised by Grupo Vía in Actiu´s Showroom on calle Velázquez in Madrid, are the present and future of these spaces.
“This last decade has witnessed a profound change in the office industry, towards spaces where people are the most important aspect and where there is now greater commitment to looking after employee well-being and comfort as a way of reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity”, explains José Osorio.
For the Director of Vía Construcción, both the coworking phenomenon and collaborative workspaces lead to healthier environments, the direct influence on the user of which is measured by the WELL certification.
Healthy and inspiring environments
Specifically, having been granted the WELL 2.0 Platinum Certification, Actiu Technology Park has placed people at the heart of its business. Friendly, efficient and collaborative, its interior reflects a way of working that Actiu wishes to implement in all our projects, through a coolworking philosophy and flexible furniture.
Despite being a very recent certification, WELL has undergone huge growth, with a fourfold increase of the 900 certified projects in 2018, reaching almost 4,000 in 2019.
In this increase, as stated by the Head of the WELL Certification at ITG Well, Bieito Silva, “having staff costs of 90% plays an important part so it essential to create spaces that have an impact on the well-being and health of users”.
“In WELL we found a Performance Verification Guidebook that we instinctively followed to make the spaces pleasant as well as making people feel good”, states CEO & Founder of Gärna, Laura Gärna. Undertaken from an integral work approach that combines architecture and interior design, its projects turn art into its main ally to improve people´s quality of life, “as a tool that generates dopamine, adds soul to spaces and drives creativity”.
Therefore, people´s comfort and well-being has become the main objectives for companies such as ZG Lighting Iberia, that, as stated by its Head of Marketing, Cristina Hernández, “is committed to people-centered lighting that customises the space and generates well-being”. Along with light, acoustic comfort is another one of the aspects that most concerns employees, considered by 66% to be one of the biggest problems in the workplace. To achieve healthier environments, as its Area Manager, Sergio Petisco, “points out, Tarkett has created floors that improve the user's well-being by absorbing noise or reducing airborne dust”.
Adding nature into workspaces is another element that improves the comfort and health of workers. However, biophilia is not just about plants and vegetation, as playing with colours, shapes and memories inspired by natural shapes also helps. “The light, the sky, the air, nice views, the presence of water or the sound of wind are elements directly related to nature, which also boost well-being”, states María Hurtado de Mendoza, from Estudio Entresitio.
Coworking spaces as a change driver
Coworking, which is directly responsible for the change workspaces have undergone, is much more than a conventional office or a place to share a desk with other workers.
For the Project Manager at Madrid in Love, Pablo Roig, “it is an important tool for urban change which, besides creating community, offering training and accommodating very different uses, coworking represents a social change that responds to new work-related demands and acts as an agent for the regeneration of buildings and neighbourhoods”.
The increasingly blurred line separating living and working spaces means that many coworking spaces such as Utopicus Gran Via are moving away from the peripheral areas to the city centre. “In an urban centre with a lack of green spaces, understood not only as places with vegetation, but also as environments where we can connect and live differently, Utopicus offers a natural space where we can work in a more relaxed way and in contact with nature.”, states the Senior Interior Designer at Madrid in Love, Leyre Ortuño.
The significance of coworking, as a place where individual work is combined with group work, the transformation of the employee, that has replaced a task-based work style by another focused more on collaboration, and their constantly changing needs, are some of the concepts that Carlos Manzano Arquitectos use in their projects. “The most important thing is dialogue”, states Carlos Manzano, for whom the financial crisis changed the way we work. A crisis that, as Carlota Manzano explains well, “was what led to the increase in freelancers and coworking spaces that now give rise to this new collaborative economy”.
“Workers demand experiential spaces that convey a concept and tell a story”, states the architect at Proyecto Singular, Luis Vacas, who believes it is essential for projects to have a main theme that defines colours, materials and furniture that, as Luis himself explains, “is quite often what defines the space”.
Spaces for people
This rapid increase in flexible office spaces has led companies such as SDV & Partners, strategic partners in the development of Spaces, to specialise in these types of projects. According to its CEO, Eduardo Santos, “although every client is different, the all have the same interest in workspaces that strengthen the relationships between the people that use them”.
“Despite the increase in open spaces in work environments, in a Mediterranean country such as Spain it is essential to combine open work spaces with areas for concentration”, states Project Manager of Lalzada, Carlos Álvarez, who emphasises how offices increasingly tend to have the same feeling of comfort that had previously been reserved for homes.
For the Head of Workplace Solutions at CBRE España, Raquel Guijarro, “it is about transforming people through work environments that stimulate productivity, are technologically up to date and transmit employees and clients´ corporate values. Spaces that respond to the company´s values and vision, but, that most importantly respond to people”.
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