It’s no coincidence the shift in social workplace design was started by companies such as Hewlett-Packard on the West Coast, and “The Office of the Future” from Digital Equipment Corporation on the East Coast in the 70s. Tech companies recognized early that cubicles formed communication barriers, blocking the flow of creative energy. As such, HP designed work spaces using an open concept, allowing innovators to collaborate for more effective technological designs. The “Office of the Future” had porch swings for meeting spaces, and file cabinets on wheels.
The social office idea may have started decades ago on both coasts, but it has continued to evolve over the years, responding to changing work patterns and technology. Where once workers were tethered to their clunky computers and phones at a stationary desk, corporate spaces are now responding to our need for flexibility and the freedom provided by ultra-thin laptops, tablets and cellphones.
Those of us who specialize in modern workplace design have to consider how corporate workdays have shifted from demanding individual productivity to valuing more collaborative efforts. Corporate architects must now consider:
Comfort: It didn’t take more than a decade of chiropractor-oriented insurance claims before corporate America realized ergonomically correct work spaces are key to the physical health of their employees. Workplace designs incorporate individual seated and standing work spaces, as well as comfortable meeting niches where workers can brainstorm in comfort.
Mix-and-Match: Collaboration happens in 2s, 3s, and 12s, so it’s important for the modern workplace to have desks, chairs, and cushions that can be arranged and rearranged in workable, yet attractive, formations.
Stereotypical water cooler: Turns out employees tend to congregate near the elevators, coffee stations, and snack bars, so strategic designers know to create lounging stations near these areas to keep the ideas flowing.
Cafes: Employees who dine together think together. To inspire productivity, cafes provide a space for employees to take a break – or not – while eating nutritious food, without leaving the building.
If your offices are in dire need of an update, our Boston design firm can help. Contact Leslie Saul & Associates today to discuss our corporate design services.
Images: Workspace Design Magazine, Leslie Saul