The days of office design that evolves “organically” in a random, accidental way are part of the past. Efficient 21st century office furniture design doesn’t happen by chance. It’s the result of careful planning and informed decisions. Any successful business environment that supports effective collaboration requires a strategy to achieve and sustain that goal.
Time spent observing the office work flow can identify many red flags, such as collaborative zones that are obviously afterthoughts to the overall office design and relegated to out-of-the-way parts of the work space.
Another red flag is a large number of employees whose jobs are highly collaborative but who rarely come into casual contact with one another during the normal course of the day. If employees have to leave the immediate area for an alternative collaborative zone in the building or even a local coffee shop, that’s telling you something about your office furniture design.
Defining your Goals
Keeping it simple and laying out some clear-cut goals in a question/answer format also helps keep the design process more relevant to the daily reality of the office. For example, is your goal to strike a balance between worker privacy and an environment that stimulates collaboration? Maybe the “open office” concept of the past 20 years with no separation between desks needs rethinking. Installation of cubicle walls only 4 feet high maintains privacy and ergonomics while still providing the visibility and access that encourages collaboration.
Another question might be to ask how the notion of distributing collaboration areas randomly amid cubicles or desks is working out. Does it really promote interaction or, instead, interfere with or distract other workers in the immediate area? Mini-conference rooms -- small enclosed spaces with doors where workers can call instant, informal meetings -- provide a better alternative to the noise and disruption of meetings in the general office area, yet without the spontaneity buzzkill of having to reserve a formal conference room hours or even days in advance.
Nova Solutions offers answers to questions about improved office furniture design in the 21st century. Ask us about more furniture and technology innovations that promote both collaboration and efficiency in today’s office.