1. Routing and Flow
Workspaces should have clear and shared routing, where the flows are also connected to break-out spaces and communal areas. Routing needs to be based on an intelligent analysis of people flows within the workplace: fast and slow, continuous and sporadic. Principally the infrastructure needs to be well considered with respect to repetitive and intuitive behaviour; to ensure smooth flows, but also to avoid disturbing concentrated working areas.
2. Break-out spaces
Often break-out spaces are hidden: placed at the back of offices where they are not visible, or are not part of the working infrastructure. They should however be located in strategic places throughout the office and connected to the various routing strategies, in order to better enable and encourage accidental encounters. Break-out spaces should also vary in character: the workplace should offer a variety of different communal areas throughout, for larger groups and more modest gatherings, for communal working, or for recreation. Essentially the layout of the work space should present an interface that offers the best possible user experience. A varied but very specific choice of furniture for these areas is also key to their success. The SitTable makes perfect sense for todays break-out areas.
3. Flexibility is key
Contemporary companies, particularly those in the tech industries, need to be able to adapt easily to change. They need to be highly agile in terms of their workforce, which in turn means that their working landscapes need to be able to accommodate change easily. It is therefore no longer helpful for such firms to think in terms of separate departments, instead they are organised into grouped platforms that can relatively easily shift and change – and this of course needs to be reflected in how the workspace is organised and designed.
Photo: Diagram visualizing the user flow in Manhattan, UNStudio for IFCCA, 1999
4. Involving the workforce
In order to fully understand the requirements for contemporary work environments, the designer or the architect needs to communicate across the board with the end users - from the CEO to the managers to the workforce. In its own way, every company is unique and has its own bespoke needs. The only way to identify these is by asking the right questions and identifying both different and shared patterns, requirements and preferences and to cater for these integrally within the design.
5. “One Size Fits All”
Research has shown that distinct generational differences can be identified when it comes to preferences for the work environment. But these preferences are not always age-related. While some people are happier not having an allocated work space and prefer to work on mobile devices in different locations, others have a distinct preference for a set location, quiet work areas and privacy. Designing for today’s working landscape means taking these differences into consideration; catering to a variety of personal preferences and ensuring that the workforce across the board is offered choice.
Photo: SitTable at REA Group's Agile Melbourne office, photo by Nicole England
6. Healthy environments
Physical wellbeing is also essential in today’s workplace. Ensuring sufficient daylight and clean, healthy air circulation are areas in which design plays an important role in ensuring a healthy work environment. For instance improved air quality can to be introduced with ventilation systems installed per floor, rather than centrally within the building.
7. Noise reduction
Good acoustics are a must in today’s shared and open-plan office spaces. Whilst this can involve incorporating acoustic panels, carpeting and sound masking systems, a considered choice of furniture can also contribute to sound reduction. For instance by placing soft furniture, or furniture with absorptive surfaces in work areas and break-out spaces.
Photo: Ben van Berkel and Leo Schouten (director Prooff) standing at the StandTable
8. Encouraging healthy habits
Encouraging people to walk more, to stand while working, or to use the stairs rather than elevators contributes to promoting healthy habits in the workplace. This can be partially achieved by the architecture and organisation of the spaces, but also through the incorporation of innovative furniture designs, the provision of standing meeting and working spaces like the #008 StandTable and installing ergonomic furniture at work stations.
In many offices space is at a premium and thus in short supply. Here, integral and inclusive solutions need to be found. These can range from creating hybrid meeting and break-out spaces, to the inclusion of multifunctional furniture pieces.
Photo: Initial drawing for the SitTable by Ben van Berkel
10. Responsive technology
In the not too distant future responsive, intelligent digital technology will be incorporated into buildings to improve the working environment whilst also reducing energy usage. This will take the form of intelligent lighting systems, controlled ventilation, reactive acoustic masking systems or responsive heating and cooling installations. This means that within design we not only need to treat the integration of technology as a complete system or network of associated data, we also need to understand the role that spatial organisation and material choices can play in facilitating or assisting in this intelligence gathering and energy saving.
2016 signifies our 10 year anniversary, as Prooff was launched at the 2006 Biennale Interieur (Kortrijk). To celebrate this we’d love to share our insights and inspiration on the progressive and innovative workspace with you. All in list form, because who doesn't love a good list! Check out all the lists here and celebrate with us using #Prooff10
Photo: VR workspace and SitTable design by UNStudio & Prooff
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