September 11, 2019

The Evolving Workplace

For as long as people have been working in offices, we've been trying to arrange them in a way that keeps everyone focused and productive. Even in just the last few years of keeping an eye on office trends we've seen the rise and fall of many ideas for the perfect setup. 

What's interesting is that the best way to set up an office space for success has  been around since the beginning of office innovation, but first let's look at the history of office design.

If you think the idea of an open office is new, you are incorrect. It may be trendy, but the idea has been around for a while. The very first offices, which can be traced back surprisingly far in history, had open designs. They were set up as rows of large desks in an open room to allow management to keep a close eye on everyone easily. This trend would continue until the creation of the office cubicle.

Believe it or not, the original cubicle was meant to function very differently than what we think of now when we hear that dreaded word. In fact, the original cubicle system was pretty neat, but more on that later....

Instead, in an attempt to keep things cheap by packing people in, cubicles were used as the cold, colorless, worker cages we think of today.

 After years of this misuse of the cubicle, people started coming up with ideas to make sure nobody felt like prisoners in their place of work. So what's the opposite of gray, drab, closed-in cubes? Colorful open spaces!

These sorts of offices starting popping up everywhere, and everyone was talking about them. The idea, which was sound enough, was to create a place that encouraged collaboration between co-workers and an environment that made people feel comfortable, happy, and excited to work!

Unfortunately, we are now finding that this isn't how it worked out. People have started researching the effectiveness of open offices and have found that they have some very real flaws. This open design concept has an even more negative impact on certain types of workers, particularly introverts.

Another design trend is emerging to remedy this. It's even catching on in areas outside of the business world.

Will We Ever Figure This Out?

Remember how we said the solution may have been around since the beginning? Robert Propst created the cubicle to be an adaptable system that could create private and open areas on the fly, depending on what tasks were being performed. This was supposed to encourage people to stay active and create different types of workspaces within the same office. It would allow quiet nooks and open spaces to exist simultaneously.

He even recommended workstations of different heights to help people stay active. So, he almost pioneered the standing desk craze too, but that idea didn't catch on until later.

We think he was on to something, and recent trends and research agree. It turns out that individuals think, learn, and work differently (imagine that!). With that in mind, places of business and even schools are starting to create areas that encourage different ways to work and learn.

It seems the answer to making a space that helps everyone to work hard and still stay engaged and healthy is just to be flexible. What this means practically is creating different types of spaces that accommodate various tasks and different ways of staying focused.

Interior designer Alejandra Albarran recently wrote an article arguing that you need different areas in your office to accommodate different kinds of work. Rather than trying to create one type of space that is great for some things and not for others, it is important to create all sorts of different spaces that are good for brainstorming, collaborating, meeting, studying, and even resting!

It's hard to say if this line of thinking will stick around, but we've gone full circle at this point in office design, and a more open-ended idea of the ideal office space certainly makes sense to us.

How We Can Help

There's a reason we try to stay on top of recent trends and research in regards to office design. We care about the people who buy our products, and we want them to engage in practices and plans that encourage people to work better and stay healthy. For example, we have discussed the importance of taking breaks for productivity.

We are always trying to update the products we have available to include furniture for any kind of environment you may be trying to create in your office. We have standing desks that encourage staying active, spacious conference tables for focused team meetings, small meeting tables for quick brainstorming sessions, and even super comfortable chairs! Please take some time to browse our site and take a step towards creating a space that makes your workers happy!

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