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Modern office inclusive design should address everybody’s needs

Posted on July 19, 2017 by admin

Over recent years the principle of inclusive design has extended beyond its original focus on meeting the needs of disabled people to incorporate a more general principle of  how to use office interior design as a way of making sure everybody can work in the most appropriate and most productive way possible. So what can designers and managers do to make sure that their office fit-out does not exclude or make life difficult for a large proportion of the workforce?

The first step is to ensure that the company has a culture of inclusivity. The second is to get advice to ensure that the organisation understands what their legal obligations are. These two factors should feed directly into the development of sophisticated and intelligent office interior solution.

So when it comes to the office design itself, there are a number of important steps that must be taken. What these steps are – and whether they are even necessary – will vary from site to site and depend on factors such as whether we are looking at a new office design or an office refurbishment. Added complications may include that the building is listed or has other restrictions, which raises issues of exemption and what adaptations are permissible. Ideally, designers and facilities managers should be consulted early enough in the building procurement and development process to allow informed input on issues of access and allow for the development of the appropriate office interior solution.

While a total overview of what factors need to be addressed would be impossible in this short blog, it is possible to gain some understanding of needs by imagining a simple walk through of a building and develop some initial office design ideas.

Some of these may be based on established principles of inclusive design such as wheelchair access and an office interior solution that incorporates colours and features that contrast well to help the blind and partially sighted. Less obvious but no less important will be looking for ways to use contemporary office furniture in ways that accommodates the preferences and needs of people, including those from different generations.

Although recent research shows us that there is now a greater mix of people from different age groups working alongside each other in offices. So there is a great emphasis for designers to provide enough flexibility to ensure that everybody is able to work in the most productive ways.

Nevertheless, there is now no question that the people of Generation Y are transforming the world in which we live. Technically defined as those born between about 1982 and 2000, this is the first generation of people that has no conception of a world that does not allow them to have constant and instant access to information, entertainment and other people. They are only dimly aware of a quaint lost world of letters and coin-operated phones.

They understand technology intuitively and demand the latest stuff. This generation gap has already caused tension in the workplace, notably in the case of social networking sites with many employers now banning them altogether.

Yet this is also the generation that is driving the ongoing development of flexible working, using technology to work in new ways. Within the workplace their influence is felt in designs that are more open, relaxed and collaborative. They are driven by the need for self-actualisation and have a profound interest in ethics and the environment.

This evolution will accelerate as the members of Gen Y develop into the next generation of managers. With the first wave of Gen Y now in its mid-20s, we can expect a transformation of working practices over the next 20 years as they develop more influence over decision making within organisations.