Gone are the days when status meant the corner office. Today, in our collaboration-is-valued-above-status work environments, closed rooms are used for break out meetings, external vendor conversations, and group projects.
There has been a huge backlash against open workspaces and some of the points they make are valid. It's not for everyone. Levels of satisfaction at work, spread of illnesses, introverts versus extroverts, uninterrupted time all lead to a case against a sea of workers void of cubicles and offices.
As most ideas begin to take shape after a few years, shared workspaces are morphing into a combination of environments. Susan Cain has inspired Steelcase to create semi-transparent areas for employees based on mood, work assignment or personal preferences. One thing is for sure, the traditional office is dead. Workplace design has become a powerful tool for attraction, retention and productivity.
CEOs are finding themselves happier at work when they sit with their people. “I want to show I’m available,” says Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin. “I love to pop in to discussions and hear that unfiltered information.” By leaving his laptop at home, taking walking meetings, and using his iPhone to delegate tasks, he says, he can stay engaged instead of being stuck in his own email.
In San Diego, we have Underground Elephant which sets the bar for gorgeous and workable design. Their design was intended to Enlighten, Inspire and Unite all who enter. I suspect most of us want to accomplish the same thing albeit lack the budget to make large remodels a reality. Never fear--there are hacks to help even the most challenged.
Even if all you can do is realize the struggles of your workforce by providing a place for them to nap, like a Japanese design company did, your employees will appreciate the effort.
If you can't let go of the traditional office (e.g. status symbol), maybe that is because you want to treat your office like Don Draper. Just look at how that worked out for him.