WRNS + Clive Wilkinson Team up to Design an Innovative Workspace in Silicon Valley

 
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First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

 
 
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First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

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https://www.fastcompany.com/

 
 

Workplace Design Must Change to combat “epidemic” stress levels says UNStudio founder

 
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First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

That is the myth of the open office, a workplace layout so pervasive that its presence is taken for granted, and its promises–of collaboration and innovation–are sacrosanct. According to a 2010 study by the International Facility Management Association, 68% of people worked in an office with either no walls or low walls–and the number has undoubtedly grown.

There’s just one problem. Employees hate open offices. They’re distracting. They’re loud. There’s often little privacy. “The sensory overload that comes with open-office plans gets to a point where I can barely function,” says one 47-year-old graphic designer who has spent more than two decades working in open environments. “I even had to quit a job once because of it.”

For as long as these floor plans have been in vogue, studies have debunked their benefits. Researchers have shown that people in open offices take nearly two-thirds more sick leave and report greater unhappiness, more stress, and less productivity than those with more privacy. A 2018 study by Harvard Business School found that open offices reduce face-to-face interaction by about 70% and increase email and messaging by roughly 50%, shattering the notion that they make workers collaborative. (They’re even subtly sexist.) And yet, the open plan persists–too symbolically powerful (and cheap) for many companies to abandon.

As with so many things today, we have Google, at least in part, to thank. Open floors have existed since the secretarial pools of the 1940s, but when the then seven-year-old Google renovated its headquarters in Mountain View, California, in 2005, the lofty, light-filled result was more than a showcase for the company’s growing wealth and influence; it signaled the dawn of a new professional era. Architect Clive Wilkinson eschewed the cubicle-heavy interiors of the company’s previous office for something that resembled a neighborhood: There were still some private spaces, but also lots of communal workplaces and small, glassed-in meeting rooms. “The attitude was: We’re inventing a new world, why do we need the old world?” Wilkinson says. With Google’s rise, his vision for a collaborative workplace took off. “We had [companies] come to us and say, ‘We want to be like Google.’ They were less sure about their own identity, but they were sure they wanted to be like Google.”

Around the same time, a more radical version of the open office was emerging from other startups founded during the dotcom boom of the late ’90s. As these companies proliferated, they looked for cheap ways to differentiate themselves from each other and their predecessors. They found inspiration, Wilkinson says, in the more playful offices that had long been common in the advertising industry. Some moved into the unfinished lofts of San Francisco’s South of Market district–and left them that way. Walls only make things complicated when you’re rapidly adding (and eliminating) staff. “Those places were terrible,” says Joel Spolsky, who cofounded Fog Creek Software in 2000 and is currently the cofounder and CEO of Stack Overflow. “They were so loud, because there were no drop ceilings. It was painful for everybody. But [dotcom startups] were doing it because they had literally no choice.” Out of necessity, an aesthetic was born.

By the time Facebook opened its Frank Gehry–designed Menlo Park headquarters in 2015, the open office had become not just the face of innovation in Silicon Valley but a powerful metaphor. Facebook now houses roughly 2,800 employees in a 10-acre building that the company claims is the largest open floor plan in the world. “The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote when he announced the design in 2012. Famously, he has a plain white desk in the communal area, just like everyone else. (He also has a private “conference” room, where he is rumored to spend much of his time.)

The whiff of disruption that open offices carried became irresistible to startups and established companies alike. “When you talk to leaders in corporate real estate or CEOs about why they designed their space [in an open plan], most will give some fluffy answer,” says Ben Waber, cofounder and CEO of workplace analytics company Humanyze, which uses sensors to track how people use offices and interact with each other. “But when you dig down, it’s because this is what the workplaces look like at a couple of highly successful tech companies.” Calvin Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University who studies how people work, takes an even more skeptical view: Open offices have become a way to indicate a company’s value to venture capitalists and talent. The goal is “not to improve productivity and collaboration, but to signal that the company [is] doing something interesting.”

Seating Arrangements: Six office plans that broke the mold Lost amid the symbolism are the employees themselves. According to Humanyze, open plans are great at encouraging interaction between teams, which is useful when a company is trying to create new products. But they are terrible at encouraging interaction within teams, which is necessary for execution-based work, like writing code, when employees need to be in sync. An open office might be suitable for a company coming up with new ideas, but when someone has to implement them, it becomes distracting. Of course, one of the main reasons that business leaders default to open plans is simply that they’re inexpensive. According to commercial real estate association CoreNet Global, the average space allotted to individual employees globally fell from 225 square feet in 2010 to 176 square feet in 2013, and is projected to keep decreasing. This adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars–or more–in savings per year at the country’s largest companies, according to calculations from Erik Rood, an analyst in Google’s human resources department who examines corporate financials on his personal blog, Data Interview Qs.

Perhaps no company has exploited these efficiencies more than we Work, which popularized communal tables and lounge areas in its coworking hubs and now builds out offices for other companies. WeWork distinguishes itself by using its data to compress people into smaller areas–it recently took Expedia’s Chicago office from three floors to two–without, it says, sacrificing employee satisfaction. Liz Burow, WeWork’s director of workplace strategy, says that this entails bringing people closer so they interact more, while also creating a variety of seating arrangements and, yes, even some private areas. “People have different needs throughout their day and their life,” she says. “They might need to focus at a certain point and talk to someone at another point.”

Many architects share this vision. Janet Pogue McLaurin, a principal at the architecture firm Gensler, which has designed dozens of prominent corporate offices, says that the most effective open plans include a host of meeting rooms and private areas for deep concentration. “Innovative companies actually use more spaces throughout the office,” she says. They don’t expect the desk to be the center of an employee’s work life.

It’s an enticing idea. But, as WeWork has found, the most expensive part of an office is the small meeting room. As a workaround, WeWork offers its enterprise clients phone booths–basically, portable pods that can be dropped right into an existing layout.

At 15 square feet, they’re rather tight for a private office. But at least there’s a door.

https://www.fastcompany.com/

 
 

Everyone Hates Open Offices. Here’s Why They Still Exist

 
 
 
Secluded pods that allow office workers to meditate, smash things or scream will be commonplace in two years time says UNStudio founder Ben van Berkel, after research found that stress-related illness costs the US economy $300 billion a year. The Dutch architect claims that many big companies will install breakout pods in their workplaces in the near future to combat the "epidemic" levels of stress experienced by office workers all around the globe.

"This is really an urgent topic," Van Berkel told Dezeen. "On a physical and an emotional level, we can reduce our stress." "We've talked to many companies about it," he continued. "I'm talking to one big tech company in Holland right now that are fascinated by this idea, because they have so many problems with stress in the workplace."

To offer its own solution to the problem, UNStudio teamed up with social design agency Scape to design a series of pods that can be installed inside different types of office environment. But unlike similar products on the market, these modular units offer a variety of stress-reduction techniques. Occupants can engage in either active or passive activities, ranging from yoga to drumming or singing. One features walls that light up when touched."We have introduced a stress-free zone where people can physically and emotionally reset themselves," said Van Berkel. The two studios presented prototypes of the Reset pods at Workplace 3.0, on show at the Salone del Mobile during Milan design week, as part of an exhibition called A Joyful Sense at Work.

According to Scape founder Jeff Povlo, the financial cost of stress is going to force companies to start taking projects like Reset seriously – because the figures are just as worrying outside of the US. In Europe, work-related stress costs the EU approximately €20 billion (£17 billion) a year, while in Australia the annual cost is A$14.2 billion (£8.5 billion), according to Povlo's research.

"When we started looking at the numbers, it was epidemic," he said. "So employees and employers really need to tackle this – just demanding more productivity isn't enough anymore." Povlo claims these types of facilities will become a critical factor when companies are trying to retain talented staff, and will also help to ensure that these employees don't burn out.

"There is a war for talent, so keeping and retaining talent is harder and harder," he explained. "Companies have to offer something more." "There's an urgency for this and I think that's only going to grow. Because right now we're not turning off, we're demanding more and the pace of our lives isn't slowing."

Van Berkel and Povlo worked with scientists to add another feature to their Reset pods – a tracking system with biosensors, which scans a user's brain and offers real-time feedback about how it responded to different experiences. The pair believe this makes the pods even more attractive to companies, as they will be able to physically measure the impact they have made on the health of their staff – which in turn will lead to higher productivity.

Van Berkel says he plans to install Reset pods in the UNStudio office as part of their latest refurbishment. "Some of my guys, and I have it sometimes too, sit too long behind the computer, especially when we do a competition, it's easily three hours or four hours non-stop," he said. "We could introduce something more to the effect that you stand up after two-and-a-half hours behind a computer, then maybe step into a pod. But we could also guide people to relax in other ways. This is just the beginning."Amsterdam-based UNStudio ranked at number 55 in the inaugural Dezeen Hot List – a countdown of the most newsworthy names in architecture and design.

Many of the studio's projects introduce pioneering approaches to improving the social and physical health of occupants – from the sloping walkways of the curvaceous Arnhem station to the seamless network of spaces at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Van Berkel stresses that there are many ways of adapting buildings to improve health. As part of an ongoing research project with Harvard, he has been exploring a variety of other areas that need significant improvement.

"Architecture is going very slow, so I'm trying to push it," he added. "We have the possibility now to work artificial intelligence, virtual reality and more, we just need to integrate the right hardware and the software into the development of architecture."

https://www.dezeen.com

 
 

The Rise of Hospitality-infused Workplaces

 
 
 
Technology has given us the ability to work anytime and anywhere, forever blurring the lines between work and home. But a desire for work-life balance, combined with those hazy lines, means many are seeking to ¬nd elements of home in the office. The result is a new hybrid of corporate, residential and hospitality space: “corpitality”. Most of us gravitate toward human-centric spaces that have personality. We feel better, more conversational and at ease in workplaces we can relate to - spaces scaled to be lighter and flexible,casual and engaging, colourful and comfortable.

People also want to have authentic experiences and make genuine connections at work. Putting everyone into an open space ¬lled with work stations does not automatically generate the collaboration required to drive innovation and productivity. Innovation is much more likely to occur when people trust each other, and that bond happens aer they connect in meaningful ways. Many companies are looking to more casual workplace settings, or “corpitality” spaces to create environments that encourage interaction and an entrepreneurial spirit.

For HOK’s new Toronto office, the design team infused the space with warm and inviting breakout areas that help employees feel at home. The design also creates a comfortable, hospitable environment for visiting clients.

We're also living in the time where people are more connected globally than ever before. Not only are corporations looking to manage the real estate globally, but there has been a spike in the migration of people across borders. Travel-savvy staff are more aware of, and open to, the way things are done in other cultures and regions of the world. Hence, there is an increased desire to reflect that cultural diversity in our spaces today.

As workplace planners replace or enhance cubicle farms with a wide variety of spaces that give employees choices and opportunities to engage with each other, we're seeing the introduction of more lounge furniture throughout the workspace—not just in reception area. Materiality, texture, colour and aesthetics all play roles is these customized “corpitality” settings. To achieve the new “corpitality” feel, clients are seeking more customized, unique, specialty pieces. Materiality, texture, color and a desire for aesthetics all play a role in creating successful environments today. These pieces add flair and can serve as focal points in a space and provide relief and emphasis in sharp contrast to the image many corporate spaces evoke - bland, repetitive row of workstations.

The open office space at Teach for America’s new headquarters in New York is equipped with a variety of comfortable, collaborative areas that serve the daily needs of staff. Centrally located lounge spaces encourage interaction with visitors. To introduce a more relaxed feel, HOK sourced brightly coloured residential furniture designated for these cozy, communal areas.

Forward-thinking corporate real estate and facilities groups are seeking sophisticated, cultured approaches to creating these experiential environments. Beautifully craed, stylized and culturally diverse pieces provide the aesthetic and boost to collaboration that they are seeking.

Interweaving these signature elements into the workplace to evoke a “corpitality” feel in the environments where we spend most of our waking hours is a welcome relief.

Source : https://aleaoffice.com