he concept of an open office space has permeated the workforce.
An open office space forgoes the old ideal of cubicle farms for a more airy and transparent working environment. Often, in open office spaces, employees aren’t even assigned desks. You just find a place to plug in and start working, and soon enough you’re collaborating with those around you. Small, unstructured meetings can take place anywhere, and conference and huddle spaces are scattered throughout the office to give these meetings an area to flesh out.
Many companies have designed open office spaces in moves and redesigns. Open office design has given offices a more casual and livable feel that facilitates the ideals of open-form collaboration that these companies are trying to foster. But, just like eating too many sweets can lead to a stomach ache, an open office plan can lead to too much noise and spontaneity. Sometimes employees need to sit down in peace and quiet and get work done on their own.
Peter Bacevice, Director of Research, Liz Burow, Associate Principal, and Mat Triebnet, Senior Design Strategust at the New York office of HLW International, recently created a system that can help companies embarking on a new office design determine the balance they want when it comes to their office. The following video helps to break down how their system works:
The trio then pose several questions to ask before designing the new office:
- Who are our employees, and who will they be in the next 5 years?
- Who else uses our space (visitors, clients, community members, etc.), and why?
- How do we want clients, prospective hires, or other visitors to perceive us when they enter our space?
- To what extent do we value flexibility and choice over how work gets done?
- Are certain modes of working seen as a privilege only available to a select few?
- What current workplace behaviors would we like to change?
- What are the most satisfying attributes of the existing workplace that sustain productivity?
- If people aren’t regularly coming to the office, do we understand why not?
These questions, and the concept of their system, is demonstrated through two examples from Adobe and Yodle New York offices.
For Adobe, collaboration was a key. However, employees wished to remain bound by the teams and departments they worked within. For office design, it was important to create an open office space that didn’t feel like a start-up, and placed employees that interact in their work in the same areas.
For Yodle, collaboration hadn’t been a problem. However, little quiet space could be found in the office for quick projects. The new space needed to address both collaborative spaces and places for employees to concentrate.
You can read more about these examples, as well as the system for learning how you want to design your new office, at Harvard Business Review. You can also take HLW’s survey to help determine your answers to this system.