The 21st century workplace | Inquirer Business
Green Architrends

The 21st century workplace

/ 11:09 PM January 06, 2012

Time was when the workplace had yet no computers, fax machines, photocopying machines, nor teleconferencing devices. Office tables were in rows and you could tell the bosses because they occupied large tables at the end of the room near the window.

The rapid advance of technology took over. And now we have to respond not only to new products, but also to social and economic trends that shape new patterns of work.


In advanced countries they now have to raise the retirement age to 65 and even 72 because of the thinning young population. There a multigenerational workforce works as individuals and as teams in the corporate culture. That reality is very much a concern in the design of the workplace in many parts of the world.



Our country’s present workforce is composed of a few traditional workers in their seventies, some boomers in their sixties and fifties, many of the generation X in their forties and thirties, and a large number of millennials or generation Y in their twenties. The majority are tech-savvy with high expectation of self.

It is a knowledge-based workforce. Motivation does only come from directives as before. The proliferation of digital media has produced a highly networked people that connect with other people at any time and in any distance. All you need today is an iPhone or a BlackBerry to access information.

Work therefore can take place anywhere because output is transmitted easily. My client more than 10 years ago could not believe me that I would e-mail him my schematic design of his project.

Work space has become fluid and multiform and even work attire is not anymore limited to business shirts for men and skirts and stockings for women.

A degree of uniformity or structure is necessary, but today’s workforce needs more color variety and supplementary amenities. Opportunities for interaction are encouraged especially for young workers who are used to multiple stimuli and have higher noise tolerance.

Many can now carry on work outside of their office or workstation. The proportion of dedicated workstations to general meeting rooms and lounges has changed.

A Web-based workforce imbibes a more collaborative work style. Information is passed in quick meetings, therefore space is reconfigured to have more training rooms, team spaces and even cafés. This has resulted to a reduction of real estate costs for the company.


The 8-square meter individual workspace has been reduced to half since 20 years ago. Even standing height privacy through modular partitions has been reduced by one-third in vertical dimension.

Maximum daylight

Worker productivity is given more emphasis by providing maximum daylight and window views. This is enhanced by the amount of vegetation content in the window views.

Furthermore, studies show that retail sales and useful daylight are strongly correlated.

Even classrooms with more natural light have proven to score 25 percent higher on standardized tests.

Natural light is considered a dynamic element of green design. Sunlight inspires optimism.

It is a green concept to reduce individual office space and increase shared space thereby ensuring cost efficiency.

While designers try to maintain spaciousness and dedicated space for focused work, they have to make good use of every square meter of real estate for collaboration.

For comments or inquiries, e-mail [email protected]

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TAGS: Design, Office, Office Design, structure, Workspace
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