Smart companies understand that workspaces are a business tool. An office environment reflects and reinforces a business’s core values, through the placement of different teams and functions and design elements that reflect culture, brand, and values.
For example, we’ve seen an explosion of open office layouts, in part because openness, transparency, and collaboration are some of the attributes companies strive for today. Sometimes these designs work well; however, research shows that this collaborative pushmay be too much of a good thing. Increasingly, people are rediscovering the value of quiet and focus and asking for spaces where they can concentrate.
In fact, collaboration and quiet are two ends of a continuum with a range of in-between work modes — each with an optimal setting. The best way to identify these is to identify everyday work patters and micro-moments that correspond to office design decisions.
This is easier said than done, however. It’s one thing to note a person working solo in an otherwise empty seminar room, or a group of people huddling around someone’s desk because a conference room wasn’t available. It’s quite another to imagine what an alternative, effective scenario might look like.
To get everyone speaking the same spatial language, we created a Collaboration and Quiet index consisting of seven attributes that can more concretely enable people to match a desired way of working with a physical space: location, enclosure, exposure, technology, temporality, perspective, and size.
To better understand how these work, try the exercise below on your own or with your team. Pick an example of a work activity that happens regularly, like a daily or weekly standing meeting. Using the continuum below, try to identify the ideals for your particular situation (they will likely fall somewhere between the two extremes on either end). For the attribute “location,” for example, you could ask your team: Is the meeting best facilitated if it’s held in an in-demand central meeting room or near where other people are likely to gather? Or is it best facilitated closer to your team’s work area and away from where you are likely to encounter others?