What makes for the best work environment? Seems to be forever evolving, however, more and more companies are starting to tear down their cubicles and share their workspace – which in turn is changing the way we as architects think about office design of the future. Research has shown that conversation, noise, and (just a touch of) chaos can actually be good for sparking up creativity and co-worker collaboration. Researchers also believe that physical space is the key to forming friendships and positive work relationships, as people who pass each other often or work within close quarters have adopted similar attitudes and styles – resulting in an exchange of knowledge, thoughts, ideas and surprising combinations.
Traditional closed-door offices and constricting cubicles can be a waste of perfectly good space. With this new wave of open space design, people are continuously in motion, often gathering into small groups and inspiring conversation with one another. Stairways can also be an inviting space and when designed to be wider than normal, it allows for a potential encounter. Stairways are now being designed to end at a coffee station or at an informal furniture hang-out to make it easier to sit down if you wanted to continue a sparked up conversation. Some companies are even renting out desk space within a “co-working environment”, an idea where workers from different companies can learn from each other’s skill set and collaborate, even if they’re not working on the same team.
Some of the design features that contribute towards collaborative office spaces tend to include:
- An open office plan and design features that encourage worker interactions and open conversations
- Open work spaces that hold two or more people, rather than single offices or cubicles
- More common areas to lounge, for example: multiple cafeterias, break rooms, a comfortable place to read and work that encourages employees to leave a confined office space
- Provide employees with the ability to adjust tables, chairs and desks to their liking, and incorporate comfortable furniture wherever possible
- Designated “thinking areas” dedicated to brainstorming in the presence of other people
Transform the dull and rigid into flexible, innovative and inspiring.