Smaller offices, artisanship, biophilia, changing lifestyles, and budget cuts are driving a shift in workspace design in the Middle East, according to Kart Group's founder and managing director, Mustafa Khamash, says.
Technology is disrupting business and these sweeping changes are having a profound impact on workplace design. Here, Khamash picks out five trends transforming workplace design.
The shrinking office
“Technology has shrunk the devices that are being used – we see young entrepreneurs conducting business through their mobile phone or tablet, instead of from behind a big desk,” he said.
In line with this trend, floor plans are getting smaller as mobile technology gives people the freedom to work away from their desks.
“In the offices we design, we install different kinds of work areas for different styles of working – from quiet pods for deep work and breakout areas to meeting rooms and open offices,” Khamash said.
An artisanal touch
Human appreciation for authentic and timeless design remains steadfast and demand remains high for crafted textiles and curated interiors.
“We have observed users increasingly gravitate to artisanal products made by hand, appreciating the labour and age-old techniques used to create them. In the offices we design, we seize opportunities to introduce them – be it in a beautiful painting or handcrafted reception desk,” he noted.
Value for money
Design is a business that needs to make profit. As the global economy softens this can lead to “budgetary cuts across the board”, forcing designers to create great work with less cash.
The challenge is creating a modern workspace with less money in a way that does not compromise functionality or aesthetics.
“With less money for frivolous expenses, I would go as far to say that it is an opportunity for a purer, pared-back kind of design to emerge. Design budgets are being allocated to what adds value and cuts down operational costs over time,” he added.
Introducing plants and greenery can have positive psychological benefits to the workforce, which may help improve productivity and efficiency.
“In our award-winning design for the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs office, plants have been deployed in a number of ways – as effective acoustic screens in an open office environment, as decorative wall art, and simply to usher in a feeling of lush serenity,” he said.
Talent acquisition and retention can be supported with workspaces boasting gyms, coffee bars, and areas for wellbeing and reflection.
“As designers, it is now incumbent upon us to create inspirational, fun workplaces which promote health and wellbeing among users. This has a direct effect on job satisfaction and engenders pride in employees as well,” Khamash added.