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Going to Work in the Office Designs of Tomorrow

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Incase Designs | Flickr

Productivity. Collaboration. Mobility. Globalization. Socialization. Culture.

Such are the buzz-words which describe the more modern workplaces of today. But where is this all going? And why?

One thing is for sure, computers are spreading. They seem to be everywhere. They’re getting smaller, more helpful and their interfaces are getting more intuitive. It’s no wonder that the surrounding environments which inhabit them now often allow for more mobility, productivity and collaboration.

But what about creativity? It’s an important factor — and one that should be addressed head-on.

I think that fostering creativity within office cultures is both fundamental, and too often under-emphasized and overlooked. After all, it is creativity that is the glue for so many office cultures today. Just think Google.

Within Google corporate cultures you can see how having a creative work office design literally feeds the Google work culture — ultimately leading to more innovation, better employee satisfaction, retention and outreach.

Here is a quick look around the Google Chicago office so you can get a glimpse of what I’m talking about (before I go on):

 

You need to design for Work Places that Move

As you can see from the above video, Google offers quite a comprehensive array of amenities for employees (including other facilities like beach volleyball, video games, pool tables and ping-pong which were not shown). In turn, Google’s employer perspective is quite pleased with the effects of providing this “college-like campus” as creativity fuels their innovative spirit (and subsequent products).

Now, on the other end of the spectrum are situations where employees work “remotely”, from a home office, a hotel, a café or even their car.

So where is this all going — and why?

All in all, incredible and rapid development of computers and other ubiquitous technologies are impacting not only how we work but also where we work. As architects, you should pay particular attention to these trends because as employee lifestyles change — so too will the workplace architecture(s) which surround them (wherever those may be).

Expect the blurring of boundaries as things like Twitter, Google Wave and other streaming communication tools abound. Suddenly, what you know about restaurant design can help you design a better office or what you know about office design can help you design a better café. Perhaps what you know about car design will help you design better office “pods” and visa versa.

Further down the road, we may very well see an employee as wearing their “office”. Yes, I’m sure we’re not too far away from seeing some prototypes for that.

So, it may be time to really ask yourself again:

“What yields productivity, collaboration, mobility, globalization, socialization and culture?”

As the “walls” that typically define an office space blur, how will you design them innovatively — or shall I say, in a way that challenges your occupant (employee) to enjoy their work, stay healthy and do a good job.

Odds are, creativity will still be a major design factor.

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what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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