If you've spent any amount of time in corporate America, you'll know that the workplace is changing. Whether it moves from cubicles to traditional offices or open floor plans, design is constantly evolving. One thing I've found interesting is the move away from privacy—and the recent move back.
The Perfect Office
Imagine a place where your technology worked all of the time, where the conference rooms you needed were never occupied, and where the noise levels were perfectly suited to the task you were working on. In my estimation, "the perfect office" is perfectly suited to the types of work that happens and the types of people that interact in the space.
I used to believe that such a space was possible, but increasingly, found myself believing that "the perfect office" just does not exist.
It seems simply impossible to have the perfect elements of an office (layout, desk space, square footage, bathrooms, color, smell, natural light, etc.) for everyone utilizing an office environment (Gen X, Gen Y, introverts, extroverts, men, women, accounting, sales, etc.).
So while I have personally ruled out the possibility of a Perfect Office, I do believe that we should still be aiming for an "improving office."
An Improving Office
An "improving office" is one that is moving closer to perfection with the understanding that it will never be perfect—but can always be improved.
Several years ago I wrote an article titled, "Unless You're Iterating Your Office Design, You're Doing It Wrong" and it makes even more sense now that I've had a while to consider the idea more.
The basic concept I outlined was:
- Have a Goal
- Make a Change
- Measure the Results
Step 3 – Measure the Results – is the most important part and without it, it is impossible to know whether or not the changes you are making are moving you closer to your goals.
Achieving your organizational goals, whatever they may be, is the basic concept behind the "improving office."
The Workplace is Changing
Offices aren't stagnant places, but rather that are the complete opposite: organic spaces where the culture is constantly changing with new hires, people changing jobs, and new projects to be completed. Because of this, office designers are increasingly needing to adjust the design of workplaces to make them work best for the tasks at hand.
My personal reading and research has yielded these findings:
- Group space is increasing
- Collaborative space is increasing
- Offices are being adjusted to improve employee engagement
- Individual space is decreasing
- Cubicles are still the most prevalent type of workstation
- Only half of workplaces make changes to accommodate different generations
Do any of these findings reflect the change happening in your office? How is your space staying nimble and evolving?