Open your workplace to the world
We are starting a series of periodic articles that look at office design trends. This is the first one.
Technology is changing the way we work. And it’s changing the terms of our employment and who we work with. You are just as likely to have a consultant, freelancer, contract employee, or intern sitting beside you. Our workplaces are changing to accommodate this new reality.
An open office layout, when designed appropriately, can successfully integrate temporary workers with permanent ones and make the entire team more collaborative and productive. It can even make everyone happy to come to work.
If done correctly it can also be a marketing tool for your organization by impressing customers, temporary business partners, or interns. Providing flexible and open workstations will show professionalism, thoughtful design, and empathy for future team members.
What you need to do to make it work
For an open-office layout to work it must have several things. You must combine 'me' space with 'we' space, individual spaces with group spaces, and primary workspaces with activity spaces. Here are suggestions on how to make the open office layout work:
Quiet spaces – small closed offices where workers can go when they need to be creative or work in an introspective manner. You could even have a cot for when workers need a refreshing cat-nap.
Open stations – for temporary workers, contractors, interns, team members from other office locations, vendors and even permanent employees who may need to work away from their home station for a few days.
Workstations that are mobile and height-adjustable. You want to be able to reconfigure easily and help everyone avoid the Sitting Disease.
Small conference rooms – this is where real collaborative work takes place rather than in the distracting and often chaotic open-office plan. Standing height media tables are perfect for these.
Magnet spaces – small cafes, outdoor break areas and lounges with soft seating where informal gatherings and brain-storming can take place. The lounge areas should have mobile white boards and power for mobile devices and laptops.