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“I’d rather work at the Office.” - 5 tips for making your office everyone’s first choice.

AAN-3397

If you could work anywhere, where would it be? Your living room? On a beach? At a favorite café? Most of us don’t have the luxury of working anywhere, but answering that simple question can help us design office spaces that are more like the places where we wish we could work.

The best of the PARK

There’s something very compelling about being outdoors. Sunshine and fresh air make us feel better both physically and emotionally. It isn’t surprising that most people love working outside even if the conditions aren’t perfect. What IS surprising is how many offices lack daylight and views and are sealed up tight, heated and cooled by engineered air systems. The LEEDTM rating system offers a sliding scale of points based on the percentage of occupants who have direct views to daylight. Designers should strive for that number to be 100%. If terrace spaces are available on the campus, they should be equipped with WIFI and provide some shade and shelter so their use can be extended. Walking meetings are another great way to get people outside – plus, proponents report both health benefits and increased focus and productivity.

The best of HOME

On initial reflection you might think people like working at home because they know they won’t be distracted, but I find there are even more distractions at home than at the office. Rather, I think the best part of working from home is that it is comfortable and personal. Everything is arranged just the way I like it, from my desk and accessories to the music playing on the stereo. I’m certainly not advocating turning the office into individual private studios — but I do believe successful workplaces push the envelope on how much each individual can tailor a workspace to meet their personal preferences. When it comes to work style most would agree that one size doesn’t fit all, but when it comes to work stations we all too often default to a universal design solution.

The best of the COFFEE SHOP

OK I admit it, I’m addicted to caffeine and the coffee at my neighborhood shop is simply better than what we have at the office. But it’s not just the coffee. The seating is more comfortable, the internet is reliable, the lighting is soft and the place smells really good. Ironically, although the seating areas are often more crowded than my office, I find that I am less distracted because the people around me are all strangers and (unlike with co-workers), I’m not tempted to join their conversations. Making the office more like a coffee shop is perhaps the easiest way to begin to create a workplace that people love and many designers and companies have already taken this step.

The best of a CO-WORKING space

One of my colleagues likes to retreat to a co-working lounge in our building when he really needs to get something done. The benefits are similar to the coffee shop but there’s an important difference: energy! The colors are bright and the vibe is inspiring and motivating. Ideas on whiteboards and post-it notes are in sight and although the output isn’t related to his assignment, he feeds on the enthusiasm of others to fuel his own work. Making work visible in the office is a great way to motivate not only the teams creating it but also all those who pass by.

The best of the LIBRARY

Libraries are quiet places. We learn this in grade school and although we may not have appreciated it then, I think we all sometimes wish that we had a Librarian to remind people to shush! Every office needs a quiet retreat where talking is not allowed. For all of our talk about collaboration, the average worker still spends a large part of each day in focused, individual work. Designing spaces for quiet work is a good beginning but will fail if not supported by protocols and behaviors that respect the needs of neighbors.

Do you have a favorite place to work? If so, tell us why and where. Share any ideas you have about making the office more like that place.

| By Michael Fazio

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Quotable

“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