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towards open-plan design, with breakout spaces becoming more popular.
“Space is at a premium and more people can fit into an open-plan design
than separate offices,” says Lara. “It’s also about improving interaction
between staff members.”
“Clients want their staff to be invigorated while at work and promote
an office culture that encourages interaction – socially and professionally
– during and after hours,” says Derek. “Breakaway work stations and
open-plan layouts are top of the list.”
HBO+EMTB director Anthony Ewing says numerous benefits can be
obtained through creating an environment without enclosed work spaces.
“Generation X and Y staff are likely to prefer the open, collaborative feel of
the spaces and the opportunity to interact throughout the day. Removing
the separation of enclosed work settings also creates a more egalitarian
environment that breaks down cultural, as well as physical, barriers.”
Anthony says workstation-based working environments are also more
sustainable. “Less material is required in the physical construction; it
promotes features such as daylight penetration and external views that
enhance staff productivity, as well as their enjoyment of the space. It provides
more flexibility in terms of future churn and adjustment with limited costs.”
HBO+EMTB’s recent open-plan projects include SKM (Sinclair Knight
Merz) and the NAB offices in Perth. “All of these organisations have had strong
senior management support for the benefits of a flexible, open environment.”
Hassell’s One40william project in Perth is an example of sustainability
elements incorporated with open-plan design. Designed for a high level
of user comfort, the energy-efficient building includes a high fresh-air
exchange rate and has a five-star Green Star office design rating. The open-
plan layout and the stepped and angled floor plan includes winter gardens,
and is arranged so that more than 80 per cent of floor space is within eight
metres of full-height external windows, allowing for minimal artificial light.
Although no pre-move satisfaction surveys were undertaken, Alison says
the tenant, the WA government, is moving to improve its approach to office
procurement by employing evidence-based plans to evaluate user satisfaction.
Another benefit of a workstation-based environment is the space that it
generates for quiet, meeting, social and collaboration spaces. “We are seeing
a trend toward breakout spaces in a variety of different locations to support a
variety of functions, and increasingly the line between the workspace and
breakout space is becoming blurred,” says Anthony.
HBO+EMTB includes breakout spaces in all of its projects. “These spaces
provide a casual, relaxed environment for staff to interact, sharing experiences
and information, generating enthusiasm and innovation,” says Anthony.
Jacqui Preshaw, principal of architectural and design firm Woodhead,
says different clients are looking for their breakout areas to provide different
functionality and so solutions will always reflect the specific needs. “In the
absence of a specific briefing from our clients we would always recommend
that these areas are centrally located and in the open area to maximise the
amount of traffic through them. This almost forced connection will facilitate
better and more communication between individuals.”
Jacqui believes that breakout areas are important in the office environment.
“Somewhere for all staff to meet in an informal and relaxed area to share ideas
and discuss work-related issues without a more formal approach, and access to
natural light is essential. If the space isn’t inviting, the staff won’t use it.”
A combination of relaxed seating, tables and chairs, banquettes and stools,
allows the various individuals to choose what they would like to sit on, or in,
to gain the maximum satisfaction from the space.
“These spaces should be designed with colour and warmth,” advises
Jacqui. “Again, if someone doesn’t enjoy the experience, they won’t come
back. Wireless access is also important in these areas, plus the ability to
support an informal meeting. Some clients are keen for a large area and to
bring everyone together, while others are keen to provide the facilities on a
floor-by-floor basis. It refers back to the culture of the organisation.”
Woodhead’s recent fitout of the Public Transport Authority’s offices in
Perth includes a large space that allows for group presentations or gatherings,
but which can also be divided up into smaller, more intimate, areas as required.
TOP ARQ Studio blends open-plan work stations with warming elements.
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