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The Office

The modern office is evolving. Following a wholesale exodus of workers precipitated by the Covid 19 pandemic and a sea-change in thinking about how businesses operate, many companies are adapting their workspaces, giving more thought to what makes for a productive work environment.

Gone are the anonymous rows of cubicles sheltering one worker from her neighbour. Creative work and serious thinking needs privacy and a maximum of quiet and serenity. The stereotype of a group of smiling executives, shaking hands and congratulating each other on another successful acquisition have been consigned to the past. Today's real office environments exude a very different atmosphere.

Nick Hannes visited the headquarters of a number of banks and financial institutions in Belgium and the Netherlands and found employees on all rungs of the professional ladder populating these new, post-Covid offices whose functionality has been adapted to the new thinking.

In these new workspaces, office islands have evolved into modular systems, with clean desk policies and a bold air of minimalism. The workplace must be both social and flexible, fashionable yet homely, ergonomic and technologically adaptable. There are informal meeting rooms for brainstorming sessions, call boxes for private conversations, quiet zones for deep focus and lounges for relaxation.

Glass partitions speak of transparency, the menu at the staff canteen is carefully designed to promote healthy bodies while the promotion of mindfulness is focused on healthy minds. In-house fitness studios allow for distraction during breaks while prayer rooms encourage meditation on a higher purpose. At a time when workers are demanding to be allowed to work from home, staff well-being is becoming official policy for those who venture back into the office.

Nick looked for personal touches in generic environments, meandering along the thin line between banality and surprise, between humour and alienation.
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