Smart, successful companies get it – workspaces, like computers and expense accounts — are first and foremost a business tool. Office room design should mirror and underscore a business’s core values: everything from the seating arrangement of teams and functions, as well as elements of design that reflect the brand and its corporate culture.
Open or Closed? Quiet or Collaborative?
In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of open office layouts. This is due in part because companies today are striving for qualities like openness, transparency, and collaboration. Sometimes this approach works well. However, new research shows that this collaborative trend may come with a cost. More and more often, people are asking for spaces where they can concentrate, as they rediscover the benefits of quiet and focus.
Two Ends of a Continuum
In reality, collaboration and quiet are at opposite ends of a spectrum with a range of in-between work modes — each with an optimal setting. The best way to determine this scenario? Identify daily work patterns and “micro-moments” that correspond to office design decisions.
Recognizing that it is difficult to imagine an alternative, effective design setting, the folks at the Harvard Business Review created a “Collaboration and Quiet Index,” consisting of seven factors that can help people to match a desired style of working with a physical space:
To get a better idea of how these work, try this exercise on your own or with your team. Pick an activity at work that happens regularly, like a weekly meeting. Using the continuum on this infographic, try to pinpoint the ideals for your company’s situation (they will most likely land between the two extremes). For example, for “location,” you could ask your team: Is the meeting best run in a much-in-demand conference room or near where other people are likely to congregate? Or, is it best facilitated in proximity to your group’s workspace and away from others?
When you’re finished, consider all your answers as a whole — this can help give you the language to identify your needs.
This exercise can be used beyond a single meeting. It can serve as the foundation for a “design visioning workshop” with a larger group about working in new ways in the future.
“The Open-Office Concept is Dead”
A 2016 article in Fortune magazine suggests that the backlash against the open office has reached critical mass. The trend “is destroying the workplace,” declares a 2015 Washington Post headline, which labels the setup “oppressive.” A Google search reveals scores of similar articles and testimonials, which credit the open office with the spread of disease, endless distractions and, according to a 2015 Bloomberg article, “being forced to listen to phone calls about the veterinary issues of your co-workers’ cats.”
Evidence on the overall impact of the open plan on productivity is mixed. But if an open plan isn’t the solution to the modern workplace, what is “the next big thing?”
The Future of Office Room Design Is Now
In the office room of the future, there are no pods hanging from the ceiling or virtual reality work stations. As it turns out, the office of the future resembles a mixture of office design ideas already in use, with some important changes.
The trend today combines private offices, cubicle “banks” and truly open floor plans, as well as communal areas and sound-proof rooms where employees can go to focus on individual projects. This private space seems to be of increasing importance: a study by the architecture and design firm Gensler found that workers in 2013 spent 54 percent of their time on work requiring sole focus, up from 48 percent in 2008.
The end result? A hybrid office, which incorporates a range of spaces and gives employees the freedom to move between them throughout the day.
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The Emagiblock® system is also reusable, and made with environmentally-friendly materials. Contact us today, and let us help you bring your vision to life.