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Living Office

A New Landscape of Work, Part II

Our introduction to Living Office continues as we show the final three trends in space utilization that can help create a more purposeful workplace.

open corporate office space by Office Environments

Last week we introduced the first three shifts successful organizations are making in their workplace strategy. This week we be wrapping up the final areas of change and begin introducing how you can transform your office into a Living Office.

We observed that top organizations are reclaiming the space used for large but perpetually underutilized conference rooms and redistributing it throughout the office landscape to make room for smaller, more purposeful settings and connective spaces. Those that have adopted this approach have seen an increase in space utilization, and their people feel better supported for the many ways they work together.

From Required Circulation to Desired Connection

Design Yard 2
A playful mix of classic and contemporary designs offers a diverse array of places for people to socialize, converse, and work.

In the past, circulation space was viewed as a necessary evil: offices had to have it so people could comfortably move from Point A to Point B. But circulation space can be far more than a conduit for people. When purposefully planned—with people’s needs, experiences, and activities in mind—it can become active connective space.

We’ve found that progressive organizations are making more room for connective space by reducing the number of private offices, too-large conference rooms, and underutilized assigned workstations. To give this connective space more value, they are prompting greater connection by carefully considering sightlines and adjacencies between key areas of activity, to facilitate information sharing and relationship building between people and teams.

From Standard Conference Rooms to a Variety of Group Settings

office desk design
This Cove setting—a group space adjacent to Herman Miller's marketing team’s individual workstations—allows people to assemble and engage with one another for a short period of time.

If you observe any office, in any business around the world, you’ll notice people doing a variety of activities throughout the day. A majority of these activities are social and collaborative in nature, like dividing and conquering work on a project, having a conversation, or co-creating an idea for a new product. But many offices only offer one type of group space—conference rooms—to support this broad range of activities.

Our study revealed that forward-looking organizations are creating workplaces with a variety of settings, each specifically designed to support different people and their work. In these offices, people have better support for their work, and the organizations are making optimal use of their space.

From Assigned Seats to Shared Workpoints

open office design by Office Environments
A forty-foot-long coffee bar offers a place to socialize and get work done.

Technology has freed people to work anywhere in the office, and many people are doing just that. In space-utilization studies, we found that 60 percent of the time individual workstations were unoccupied. While this freedom is great for workers, it also means that the spaces occupied by their assigned workstations are being underutilized.

The preeminent organizations we studied are shifting from a workstation mentality to a workpoint state of mind. Instead of assigning one desk to each person, these organizations created shared workpoints throughout the office to give people the variety they need to do a range of individual activities. This approach doesn’t mean that assigned workstations aren’t still appropriate for some people and work, but shared workpoints make better use of space and provide better support for the way most people are actually working.

Check back later this week as we begin to introduce the settings behind Living Office and how they are helping organizations create more purposeful workplaces. To learn more about Living Office, contact our team today.