How can offices improve

Work has changed – have offices? In the Netherlands a desk cannot be more than 10m from a window that can be opened. In North America, most office towers have fixed windows that cannot be opened. As a result we have forced air circulation that costs money, energy and provides us with inferior quality air. In addition most office towers are designed in such a way that window space is sparse – a window office is a boon. Much research has criticized the office design of the early 20th century that has survived until now. The office was designed using ideas derived from factories and assembly lines. But the work has changed – while assemblies produced a specific product according to pre-defined instructions, office workers are now doing much creative and innovative work. Much of the cumbersome data entry and records keeping work has eroded thanks to the IT revolution. Office work now involves as much as 40% of time spend on innovation and collaboration. The dark interior spaces, sectioned into oceans of cubicles with managers getting window offices no longer seems meaningful. We have seen that in our own experience – when Facebook took space with us they insisted on an open concept office where the was no visual cues of rank, nor walls separating individuals. The company needs to work as a team, think as a team and act as a team. The idea might stem from sports – where locker rooms and showers are shared. Even pro athletes share the locker room – this will allow proper team building on and off the court. Essential to all of this is trust – trust your managers and your peers. By taking away the dividing lines we can see it all – if your manager is pushing you hard, it feels good to know that he is working just as hard. Casual chats will break out as colleagues grab lunch at the same time, maybe send each other a youtube video – seeing how the other is also on break. Create relationships that go beyond work and profits. Now all we need is millions of sq.ft. of office space redesigned to meet these needs. Some have warned that office towers will become abandoned over the next 50 years. Spooky. What do you think?
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