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Designing a Great Workspace Part II

Welcome back! Here is Part 2, picking right back up where the last post left off.

What would be 3 or 4 crucial things to keep in mind when designing a modern workspace?

Caleigh:

  • Maintaining Warmth through reds, yellows and wood grains. Modern workspaces tend to be very white and metallic, so it’s important to bring in aspects of warmth and life to visually soften straight edges. This could be as simple as adding some wood detailing, or inserting a plant here and there to liven things up. The addition of Natural Elements, allows people to feel calm and comfortable. There is something about the brain and the way it connects to Nature.

  • A Balance of Privacy, Collaboration, and Recreational Spaces.

    • In designing modern workspaces, many designers are removing walls and partitions in order to create an open work environment that promotes interaction and collaboration. While this is a positive change, designers are now missing the privacy aspect. In order incorporate this important element in an open concept space,  ‘phone booth’ type areas are in. These are quiet spaces, outfitted with a door that allows for productive work without interruption.

  • Meetings are a very important part of the office environment. As a result, they are often busy and very loud.  It is important to be able to have these animated conversations without disturbing the rest of the office. Being able to provide a variety of these types of spaces(such as: conference room style, lounge style, semi-private, very-private etc.) is ideal.

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  • Having a Break Room/Eating Space enables the ability to get away from the computer or work space helps to refresh and invigorate people. The human brain can only focus on a task for a limited period of time, after which, productivity can be a struggle. In setting aside a place for interaction, people are encouraged to talk about things other than work. This increases positivity in the space and builds up the team. It also provides a place to store the snacks and refreshments that will energize and fulfill the hunger pangs that can drive concentration away.

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  • Inspiration. Whether it is a pin board or a digital screen with photos, it is important to surround the workspace with items of inspiration.

Caleigh’s Pinterest Board

  • Lighting. Having a well lit workspace with the absence of window glare as well as an abundance of natural light gives off vibes of a positivity and openness.

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  • An extra point that must be included would be Dogs. Absolutely had to throw this one in! Here at Element, it is not uncommon to walk into the office and be greeted by a lolling tongue and wagging tail! Always happy and energetic, dogs can relieve stress and help change perspective in an instant, as well as get people moving.


How much do Ergonomics factor into your designs?
Laura:

Ergonomics are a critical factor. Task seating and workstations, must support the physical needs of every employee. Specifying task chairs with height-adjustable seats, arms, and tilt control backs will allow the user to adjust to their specific needs. If an employee is comfortable in their personal work area, they will be more productive and, most importantly, will not have long-term physical issues. There is a significant increase in the number of height-adjustable desks in the workplace. This type of workstation provides an employee the opportunity to sit or stand throughout the day.

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In your opinion, what makes a workspace great?

Laura:

A great workspace is one that an employee looks forward to working in. The space must be comfortable, inviting, and support the daily job requirements and tasks that an employee must perform. Studies have shown that environments that are fun and lively, have a direct relationship to productivity levels. Natural light, comfortable furnishings, flexibility,  ample amounts of the overall space combined with how it’s utilized, are all important aspects to making a workspace great. Throughout the course of a day, an employee will need to have access to meeting, collaboration/lounge, and break/lunch areas.

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Caleigh:

Once again, a space that allows people to work and communicate fluidly. It is vital to be able to combine time for productive work as well as time for brainstorming, collaboration and problem solving. A great book on this topic would is Typologies by O + A Architects. Inspiration for this idea can be drawn from big technology companies, as they are reviving the concept of office work. Companies such as Apple© and Cisco™ are building large HQs to bring people together under the same roof and create a welcoming and open space accented by nature. For example, Apple© is building a headquarter that will fit approximately 12,000 people, while the rest of the surrounding land will go towards parks and recreation centers, surrounding the offices with beautiful scenery and activity.

Thank you to Caleigh and Laura for taking time out of their day to answer these questions!

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Interview conducted and written by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group.

Special thanks to Laura Mynahan and Caleigh Pollard.