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Let's talk about work
Filled with ambition, pressure and (if you’re lucky!) life-affirming fulfilment, our jobs are a huge part of our lives. Our Content Coordinator, Charlie, exposes the importance of making where you work; work for you.
Our journey through the working world is eventful, but it seems to me that talk of our work environments is largely absent from mainstream debate. In the throe of a technological revolution and with 60% of UK workers unhappy in their jobs, we’re taking a look at why a rethink of the office might mark the end of the daily grind.
The digitalisation of information means there’s less reason to be bound to a desk. With this flexibility, companies are more inclined to think about their office space and how it reflects on company culture and staff wellbeing. So, what does the future of work look like?
Slack are among the companies choosing to rethink their space. As the provider of an instant messaging app that allows colleagues to communicate from any location, it’s no surprise their own headquarters exude flexibility.
ODOS architects have designed Slack’s Dublin HQ to mirror the ‘urban grain’ and ‘unique fluidity’ of the Irish capital, creating a space with diversity as its core concept. This means quiet corners to ‘break out’, a range of meeting rooms and a cafe space you can’t not be jealous off.
When communication is key, a fluid design enables transparency, creativity and productivity.
When I visited IDHL, one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the UK, their new offices were clearly having a positive effect on the moral of the staff. The kitchen had a long wooden table, a fireplace and a wall filled with pictures of the staff in mis-match photo frames. It felt like home, and the people there agreed. From creative zones with old-fashioned telephones, to ‘treadmill desks’, there is a corner for every kind of worker. Almost everyone I spoke to said that these spaces gave them the opportunity to mix things up and regain motivation if they needed to. They also thought it helped them communicate better with other departments; Group Commercial Director Stuart McGregor said that having a collaborative environment was vital for creating openness in an industry reliant on good communication. He also thought that introducing a flexible, homely space ‘motivates people to do good work’ – a move that is both good for business and the fulfilment of the people working there.
When you need to regain motivation, a mixed collaborative environment that caters to every kind of worker is vital.
It’s clear that contemporary office design goes hand in hand with the philosophy behind work. Unassigned, flexible space allow employers and employees alike to focus less on the hours sat at their desk, and more on the output of actual work. This takes the pressure off, grants more freedom to workers and arguably encourages productivity. It may even be part of a whole movement to break down the structures of employment– some companies (if very few) are choosing to remove contracted hours, job titles and assigned desks completely.
With this in mind, many are choosing to ditch the office altogether, and move into co-working spaces side by side with other companies and freelancers. Tom Dixon were commissioned to curate a space in London’s Camden, which they feel is a “great backdrop for the fast moving and impatient world of startups and tech companies.” As well as being a networker’s dream, this is a space with variety, character and wingback chairs to hide away when it all gets a bit much. Drawing inspiration from club and restaurant spaces, it isn’t a typical office environment. From stunning custom made designer furniture to movable light fittings, it’s a space for events as well as work.
As we move further towards the culture of co-working, Tom Dixon's solution offers “a great backdrop for the fast moving and impatient world of startups and tech companies.”
In 2011, Vitra introduced a concept called the ‘Citizen Office’, with an aim of doing away with one-dimensional offices. They believe that “many people feel that there is not enough variety at work’ and see their concept as a way for people to ‘feature different atmospheres, colours and materials, in order to discover which place is best for them or best for a specific task.’ If creativity and knowledge is varied and without limits, then the way we work should be too.
If creativity and knowledge is varied and without limits, then the way we work should be too.
Our undeniably territorial nature means that we may never want to give up our desks in exchange for completely flexible and unassigned space. Not to mention, this approach might not be viable for some office-based professions. But it’s the sentiment behind it that actually matters – the idea that we should think more about the environments we spend our days in. We should question them, and find ways to harness design to create spaces that will encourage communication, make us feel more comfortable and most importantly, happier.
As we’ve evolved we too have questioned the way we work. With an expanding team our space has demanded flexibility that caters to our different teams dynamics.
Got an office project you want to talk about? Our team will be happy to help. Give us a call on 0114 243 3000.
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