Posts tagged collaborative workspace
Open Offices Back In Vogue - Thanks to Millennials
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Attention, Millennials: Advertising agency Grey has an office just for you. As reported by PSFK, the company’s New York location has set up a Millennial-only wing called Base Camp. Rather than being seated in separate client account teams, young workers all share desk space in a central area away from their supervisors. It’s the latest iteration of the open plan office, which has gradually overtaken cubicles as the standard workplace layout as managers look to promote collaboration and cut costs. This design will likely to continue gaining momentum thanks to Millennial workers eager to bond with their co-workers.

Over the past decade, the open office has become a fixture of the modern workplace. The private offices and high cubicle walls of yesteryear have increasingly given way to workspaces with no or low partitions. These offices often have long rows of tables where staff members work alongside managers and executives. Several big-name companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, and CBRE, have gone even further and established “free-address” workplaces with no assigned seating. Overall, about 70% of U.S. offices have some type of open floor plan, according to the International Facility Management Association. And platforms like Grind and NeueHouse even rent out similar environments to freelancers who would otherwise work from home.

Many consider open offices a less stuffy alternative to cubicle life. In theory, this design promotes transparency and fairness: Fewer walls and doors make management seem more approachable and encourage information to flow freely. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg famously applied this model to City Hall, creating “the Bullpen” to encourage openness and communication. Meanwhile, the ubiquity of open offices among Silicon Valley titans—Google, Facebook, eBay, and Yahoo! among them—has made the design shorthand for free-wheeling, innovative enterprise where ideas can be exchanged on the fly.

Companies have also embraced this design for a less utopian reason: It saves money. Open layouts maximize existing space while minimizing costs, particularly in an era when more employees are telecommuting and leaving cubicles empty.

The debate over open offices reflects stark generational differences. Those who complain the loudest about this office concept are older workers, particularly Boomers. Not only does this generation value workplace privacy the most, they also tend to see office space as representative of one’s level of achievement and value. After finding out that his employer would be shifting to an open floor plan and he would lose his office, one Boomer lamented to NPR: “I earned a window. That was important to me.”

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Millennials, on the other hand, are this layout’s biggest proponents. This arrangement is well-suited for a group-oriented generation that values the opportunity to socialize, work in teams, and get help from co-workers. Their mobile style of working also means that they don’t equate space with worth and are eager for more egalitarian spaces that encourage everyone to contribute. To be sure, young people’s perceptions of open offices aren’t all positive: According to a 2012 study of Finnish workers, Millennials find conversations and laughter just as distracting as older generations do. But they’re more likely to believe that the trade-offs are worth it.

In moving toward open environments, young adults are also going backward to the workplaces of their grandparents. Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, open bullpens for workers were the norm. This changed with the introduction of the cubicle—a modular system dubbed Action Office II—in 1968. Its creator envisioned it as a way to liberate Boomer workers by giving them more privacy and autonomy—which ended up becoming a double-edged sword as managers arranged them into dreary, uniform “farms” that packed in as many people as possible. Between 1977 and 1997, cubicle sales in America grew 20-fold. And now the walls have begun coming down again—this time spurred by a generation of employees who’d rather collaborate than work alone.

Going forward, it’s likely that the latest incarnation of the open office won’t look like its predecessors. In the light of mounting evidence against a no-walls environment, designers are offering modified spaces that allow for privacy according to job function rather than seniority. While a marketing team, for instance, could benefit from a chatty atmosphere, a writer on deadline might need space to concentrate.

Some tech companies, like AECOM, have created “coding caves” that require total silence; inside, workers aren’t allowed to chat, take phone calls, or play music. And on the main floor, they follow different guidelines governing conversation volume and appropriate times to interrupt colleagues. In some sense, open offices might come to resemble the military—where soldiers have long followed strict protocol in order to operate in close quarters. In this way open offices will not only allow employees to be social, but will also teach them sociability.

Content originally published in Forbes, March 31, 2015.

Interior Design Walk-Through: Gravillis Office by SmithGroupJJR

imageThis month’s edition of Interior Design Magazine featured a walk-through of the Gravillis office in Los Angeles, CA by the firm, SmithGroupJJR. The installation features Innovant’s conference table and FORm_office benching. Read the story, “It’s Their Baby,” by Edie Cohen below.

DeAnna and Kenny Gravillis were running their Los Angeles graphics firm, Gravillis, from a small studio attached to the house where they lived with their 4-year-old daughter when they met an architect named Mark McVay. Fast-forward 10 years. McVay had become a studio leader at SmithGroupJJR, and Gravillis had gone on to create movie posters for Inglourious Basterds and Only God Forgives and album covers for Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. It was time for a major office expansion.

And that’s precisely what Gravillis got: 6,200 square feet in a downtown low-rise, plus 1,500 square feet of roof deck. Thrilled that the 13-strong team could now really spread out, the Gravillises were nevertheless leery of losing the teamwork benefits of the original close-knit setting. So McVay made sure to provide plenty of openness and communal spirit. Reception, boasting a Ping-Pong table, flows toward the glass-fronted conference room, which shares a freestanding volume with the library. In the design studio, the benching system forms three  compact rows of six stations apiece. 

Graphics being what Gravillis does, they appear throughout. In a big way. A graffiti artist contributed a mural in a constructivist-futurist aesthetic, overlaid with the words Made for Designers. Another in-house work combines those motifs with a blow-up benday-dot portrait of the Gravillises’ daughter when she was an infant.

The final component of the brief, McVay says, “was about adding amenities.” Foremost among them is the roof deck, which extends in a triangle off one side of the building. For inspiration, he notes, he looked to old Hollywood: “People in entertainment used to work outdoors, from their beach bungalows.” 

Sliding doors at the widest end of the triangle provide direct access from the Gravillises’ corner suite, complete with private lounge. There are two private offices for executives, too. And the screening room, while relatively small, offers plush seating. Democratically, everyone gets a turn to attend the screenings, even the interns.

In a recent  New York Times  article,  Engineering Serendipity , Greg Lindsay deliberates workplace policies by  Yahoo  and  Google  and describes how companies can use social media as data to plug organizational gaps.    By bridging these gaps, he says, employers are able to “engineer” serendipity (“regarded as close kin to creativity – the mysterious means by which new ideas enter the world”) amidst employees.     
 In addition to Lindsay’s assertion that social media is one method for helping employees serendipitously “generate good ideas,” he adds that physical space that “maximizes ‘casual collisions of the work force’” can also breed creativity. This idea is supported by the discovery of  Sociometric Solutions  that “employees who ate at cafeteria tables designed for 12 were more productive than those at tables for four.” Thus, not only are companies like Yahoo banning employees from working from home as a way to bring people together, they are also housing employees in environments that encourage “chance conversations.” Lindsay explains that “we get a particular intellectual charge from sharing ideas in person.” 
 In the end, “the message [is] clear: doing your best work solo can’t compete with lingering around the coffee machine waiting for inspiration – in the form of [interaction with] a college – to strike.”

In a recent New York Times article, Engineering Serendipity, Greg Lindsay deliberates workplace policies by Yahoo and Google and describes how companies can use social media as data to plug organizational gaps.  By bridging these gaps, he says, employers are able to “engineer” serendipity (“regarded as close kin to creativity – the mysterious means by which new ideas enter the world”) amidst employees. 

In addition to Lindsay’s assertion that social media is one method for helping employees serendipitously “generate good ideas,” he adds that physical space that “maximizes ‘casual collisions of the work force’” can also breed creativity. This idea is supported by the discovery of Sociometric Solutions that “employees who ate at cafeteria tables designed for 12 were more productive than those at tables for four.” Thus, not only are companies like Yahoo banning employees from working from home as a way to bring people together, they are also housing employees in environments that encourage “chance conversations.” Lindsay explains that “we get a particular intellectual charge from sharing ideas in person.”

In the end, “the message [is] clear: doing your best work solo can’t compete with lingering around the coffee machine waiting for inspiration – in the form of [interaction with] a college – to strike.”

Amerca’s Workforce Reducing its Footprint - Work Environments are getting Smaller and Smarter  
 In this week’s issue of Monday Morning Quarterback studies from CoreNet Global showed that the amount of office space per worker has been declining as more and more offices adopt open plan environments. We’ve found on numerous occasions that to successfully densify your office having  a more  intelligent workstation is essential. Giving employees flexible workstations and different environments throughout the office to do their work can lead to huge increases in productivity. 
 “For the first time many companies, the average allocation of office spaces per person in North America will fall to 100 square feet or below within the next five years.  By 2017, at least 40% of the companies responding indicated they will reach this bench mark of individual space utilization, which has been the case in Europe for the past several years but is now heading for the Americas. 
 The average for all companies for square fee per worker in 2017 will be 151 square feet, compared to 176 square feet today, and 225 square feet in 2010. “The main reason for the declines,” said Richard Kadzis CoreNet Global’s Vice President of Strategic Communications, “is the huge increase in collaborative and team oriented space inside a growing number of companies that are stressing “smaller but smarter” workplaces against the back drop of continuing economic uncertainty and cost containment.” Core Net Global, which  conducted the survey, is the worldwide association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals. 
 Today, just 24 percent of the respondents reported that the average space per office worker is 100 square feet or less; however 40% reported that within five years, the average space per office worker would be 100 square feet or less. 
 It is clear the amount of space dedicated solely to specific employees is steadily shrinking. A majority of the respondents, 55%, reported that square feet per worker has already decreased between 5 – 25% over the last 5 years. 
 “There are a number of additional factors contributing to the decline in the amount of space per worker“ said Kadzis. “ More Companies are adopting open floor plans in which employees do not have any permanently designated spaces at all; rather they use unassigned space when they are in the office setting that often change daily. This trend is enabled by technology and by cost measures, as they require smaller footprints .” 

Amerca’s Workforce Reducing its Footprint - Work Environments are getting Smaller and Smarter

In this week’s issue of Monday Morning Quarterback studies from CoreNet Global showed that the amount of office space per worker has been declining as more and more offices adopt open plan environments. We’ve found on numerous occasions that to successfully densify your office having  a more  intelligent workstation is essential. Giving employees flexible workstations and different environments throughout the office to do their work can lead to huge increases in productivity.

“For the first time many companies, the average allocation of office spaces per person in North America will fall to 100 square feet or below within the next five years.  By 2017, at least 40% of the companies responding indicated they will reach this bench mark of individual space utilization, which has been the case in Europe for the past several years but is now heading for the Americas.

The average for all companies for square fee per worker in 2017 will be 151 square feet, compared to 176 square feet today, and 225 square feet in 2010. “The main reason for the declines,” said Richard Kadzis CoreNet Global’s Vice President of Strategic Communications, “is the huge increase in collaborative and team oriented space inside a growing number of companies that are stressing “smaller but smarter” workplaces against the back drop of continuing economic uncertainty and cost containment.” Core Net Global, which  conducted the survey, is the worldwide association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals.

Today, just 24 percent of the respondents reported that the average space per office worker is 100 square feet or less; however 40% reported that within five years, the average space per office worker would be 100 square feet or less.

It is clear the amount of space dedicated solely to specific employees is steadily shrinking. A majority of the respondents, 55%, reported that square feet per worker has already decreased between 5 – 25% over the last 5 years.

“There are a number of additional factors contributing to the decline in the amount of space per worker“ said Kadzis. “More Companies are adopting open floor plans in which employees do not have any permanently designated spaces at all; rather they use unassigned space when they are in the office setting that often change daily. This trend is enabled by technology and by cost measures, as they require smaller footprints.”