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First Workplace Salon in Boston


Inscape hosted its first Workplace Salon in Boston recently which was attended by leading designers, facility managers, a project manager and an IT consultant. Here’s a summary of what we heard:

Change management is critical:
From private offices to open plan or dedicated seats to free address, companies are more interested than ever in exploring new ways to get work done. Designers also want to introduce creative ideas to the workplace. When looking to introduce new ways of working, change management is critical in helping users adapt. Many companies are finding that developing a pilot project is an important first step. This creates an opportunity for individuals to “test drive” the proposed workspaces, increases buy-in from user groups, and provides opportunities for ongoing improvements.

Furniture plays an important role:
Furniture should be designed and planned to be easily changed. Consistency of components and modules helps improve the flexibility designers and end users are seeking. Furniture can create the privacy that an individual needs for focused work, without compromising communication amongst peers. Most participants agreed that 51”-53” is an ideal height for workspaces. This height allows for seated privacy, but still gives an open environment and encourages collaboration. It was also noted that many workers use dual monitors which create some visual privacy in a benching application.

Finding balance in the workplace:
Open environments in the workplace are created to foster collaboration and mentoring, but can be noisy and distracting for focused work. One participant noted that some companies have implemented a “no headphones policy.” Their reasoning is that wearing headphones shuts out the sharing of knowledge the company wants to encourage. Others argued that being able to listen to music and “tune out” allows them to get focused work done without moving to a quieter spot. Everyone agreed that creating focus rooms and areas to get away are critical for productivity in the office.

Generational preferences:
Many of the participants said that their children rarely sit at a traditional desk at home to do their homework. And when they are doing their homework from the sofa, their beds or the dining room table they are also checking Facebook, chatting online with friends and listening to music. They are a generation that has grown up multitasking and are immersed in technology. Sitting at a traditional workstation and doing a mundane task will not motivate them in the workplace. They need challenges and stimulation to remain motivated.

How much technology is too much?
Have we gotten to a point that we rely too much on technology? Emails allow us to be connected more than ever before, but it can disrupt important tasks with its implied sense of urgency. Technology shouldn’t distract you from the current task or meeting you are in, but should be there to help facilitate.

Feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts on these topics.

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| By Jamie Feuerborn

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“A mega-trend is sharing instead of ownership of workspaces. We can either all ride in coach or we can share a private jet.”

Chris Blackadder
Principal, Woods Bagot