Thinking of switching your office layout for something new? You’re not alone: According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations like Facebook and Samsung are turning away from both the traditional “cubicle farm” office and the standard “open office” plan to come up with their own, custom workplace environments. Different arrangements of furniture new and used will create the unique work atmosphere that companies are looking for.
The HBR article on this trend uses photos of several office campuses to show the benefits of active spaces that encourage collaboration. As opposed to some “open” plans that don’t actually get employees to work together, the “action” office model allows employees to wander and interact, but in specific spaces.
This is also known as “coworking” and has been associated with higher productivity.
The authors of this piece assert that, in the best-case scenario, “coworking” offices utilize the best of both private and open offices by creating special areas where employees in different departments meet naturally. Regardless of what they talk about when they meet, these “collisions” are often found to lead to productivity.
“Spaces can be designed to favor exploration or engagement or energy to achieve certain outcomes,” the authors write. “For example, if a call center wants improved productivity, the space should favor engagement—getting the team to interact more. Higher engagement is typically accomplished not with open social space but with tight, walled-off workstations and adjacent spaces for small-group collaboration and interaction.”
Another example of this hybrid model is Gawker’s plan for its upcoming New York office in Union Square. Recently shared images of the space on Gizmodo show how it will create a “work/party balance” with “a range of spaces that lead from personal to collective.” The designers are using mood lighting, curtain walls and lounges to prompt employees to work where and how they like, but in established segments.
These “action offices” require properly organized sections with the appropriate furniture to work. Office planners should consider a variety of furniture layouts as a means of achieving that balance.