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The Traditional Office vs Modern Office

modern office layout

Whether you’re a seasoned office manager or creating your own start-up from the bottom up, you know that having a productive office environment is the key to a happy and productive workforce. This can be problematic if you’re faced with several hundred (or thousand) square feet. The sheer range of options can feel overwhelming when you are trying to make the best design choice. However, your choices all stem from one initial decision: whether to have a traditional office vs modern office layout. Once you’ve made your choice, all of your design and furniture options will become much easier as you’ll have a central aesthetic to work from.

What Is A Traditional Office Set Up?

To be able to make this choice, you need to know some of the key characteristics that underpin traditional and modern office setups. As well as the benefits (and drawbacks) of choosing each one. To start with, a traditional office setup conjures images straight out of a Dilbert cartoon with soulless cubicles and boxed-in corner offices for the more senior employees. This isn’t true in a majority of traditional office setups, but you’ll still see personal working spaces with some sort of division to group workers by team or by position.

Benefits of Traditional Offices

executive office

This traditional office setup is still popular across the world. In part, this is because change is hard in the workplace. It takes a brave office manager to shake things up. It’s also popular because this individualized way of working still holds many benefits for the modern workplace:

  • Quiet focus

    It’s been long known that whatever field you’re in, the ability to have some quiet focus time is essential for all employees to get their daily tasks completed. You can update your office norms so that wearing headphones is ok at your desk, but visually blocking off each employee gives them the opportunity to tune out the distractions of the modern workplace and focus on their task at hand.

  • Personal space

    Most offices have had their team working from home over the last two years. Allowing employees to create their own personal space is one way to bring home to the office. This helps boost morale as well. There’s a reason why so many people keep photos of family or vacations around their desks. A traditional office setup allows your workers to create a little slice of home to call their own. This gives them a safe space to return to and recharge during the stressful parts of their day.

  • Optin to collaboration

    Teamwork makes the dream work, as the saying goes. No matter what field you’re in, there is power when multiple brains are put onto a project. A traditional office setup makes collaboration a little more difficult for your employees. But you still have the option to call a team or staff-wide meeting when necessary.

There are a few drawbacks to the traditional office setup. Firstly, it can be an inefficient use of square footage as you’ll need more room for each employee to have their own personal space as well as having meeting spaces. Secondly, the individualized approach can feel impersonal. Your more introverted or unhappy employees can easily hide away. This is often a key breakdown in positive office culture. Finally, there will still be a hierarchy as the line managers and supervisors will want visible symbols of their status in the corner offices.

What Is A Modern Office Set Up?

hybrid office

While a traditional office setup is easier to make small changes to, you’ll find a modern office layout gives a better opportunity to really change the vibe and atmosphere around your office. It can be hard to pin down an all-encompassing definition of a modern office environment, but some of the key traits include light decor, more open spaces, creative touchdown spaces, and acoustic furniture.  Often you’ll see multiple furniture layouts that are designed to break down the barriers between workers, and there tend to be more collaborative spaces for employees to work together on bigger projects.

Benefits of Modern Offices

traditional office vs modern office

Given the popularity of the modern office design, it’s easy to see why many office managers are choosing to completely overhaul their office plans. The sheer range of options that fit under the umbrella definition of modern design makes finding a starting place difficult. But it is undeniable that your team will benefit from this change. Some of the many benefits of a modern office design include:

  • Valued employees

    The needs of your employees are at the heart of any modern office layout. Productivity is often a by-product, but not the central focus. This means that any decision about furniture or office layout has to be considered through the lens of what will make the employees feel valued and connected to the company. An investment in high-quality furniture is one way to show that you care. Also, creating an open office structure allows employees the flexibility to find the space that makes them feel productive.

  • Easier communication

    Modern office layouts will often have modern cubicle designs. You’ll notice that the barriers between each cubicle look and feel different. In some cases, the walls of the cubicles are at desk height so that your employees can easily talk with their colleagues as they work. Other layouts are made of transparent materials to offer noise reduction and social distancing measures while still allowing natural light and connection. There will be a noted reduction in official meeting spaces in a modern office layout. Collaboration can (and should!) happen anywhere. There will still be some meeting rooms for clients and private conversations. But most internal teamwork will happen in collaboration areas or in smaller nooks around the office.

  • Flexible working

    The world is moving towards more flexible working models and away from the 1950s version of 9 to 5 office. The modern office layout has to evolve to support this flexibility. You’ll find many different spaces for employees to work. In-office workers and hybrid employees can move to different locations throughout the day instead of being pinned to one spot. Modern offices often include flexible working options like stand-up desks, ergonomic chairs, and even different lighting options to help boost their productivity.

The obvious drawback of the modern layout is that it is cost and time-intensive to make changes. To retain your top employees, put the needs of your employees at the heart of the decision-making process. Investing in high-quality modern furniture and features like a snack bar or free coffee station will boost your employee’s motivation and productivity. In addition, this will eventually lead to sales growth and larger income streams overall.

Getting Started

modern office furniture

It’s clear to see that while a traditional office layout is easier to achieve as it requires fewer overall changes to your office, there are considerably more benefits to investing in a modern office layout. With so many design options out there, it can be hard to know where to start your modern office journey. These steps will help narrow down some of your decisions as you make the transition:

  • Set a budget and timescale

    There are two restrictions you may face when beginning an office redesign. First, how much money can you afford to invest in the project? Second, how long can your employees handle the transitory period? The latter isn’t an issue if you’re either starting a new company or moving to a new building. But it will be a big problem if you need to move employees around as you renovate. Your budget should reflect the means of the company, but remember, this is an investment in your employees that can have long-term benefits.

  • Talk to your employees

    There is a key step that many office managers miss as they plan a modern office environment. They don’t first get input from the people who will actually be using the space. While it’s fun to surprise your employees (who doesn’t like a foosball table at work!), you’ll get more buy-in if you ask them for their ideas about what would boost their morale and productivity. You’ll get a lot of different specific ideas. Look for trends and patterns in their answers. You’ll be able to come up with a unique and personalized office plan that will energize your entire workforce.

  • Get professional help

    Finally, it’s ok to admit to yourself that creating a modern workplace environment by yourself is overwhelming. Getting professional help in the design and purchasing stages is a great way to save time. Additionally, you’ll often find discounts and deals when you work with the same company for the entire project.

For some office managers, there is a debate about traditional office vs modern office design. As you consider the aspects of modern office design, it’s clear to see that any obstacles that you face are easily outweighed by the benefits of a modern office layout.

Contact our team of experts to start your modern office journey today!

Office Layout Transitions: Going from Traditional to Modern

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