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Reactivating the Office

Guided by the 7 design principles, these application studies offer a tangible example of how to reactivate the office given what we have learned and how we have changed from this common shared experience in the months past: our perspective is a bit different, and our thinking broadened.

As we go back to the office, many of us are likely to find changes in how we engage with each other and with our workspaces. Chances are, our perspective is a bit different, and our thinking broadened. There’s a deeper sense of connectedness, rooted in a shared experience over months past.

Can we reimagine the office given what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed? People want a place to find focus but also spaces for spontaneous chats. Can we create meeting rooms that act as destinations for working together? How do we reshape a social space to also serve as a “performance” collaborative space?

People will return to the office with a renewed desire to interact with each other in a comfortable office environment. By remaining receptive to change, it is possible to thoughtfully plan a more engaging and effective workplace without a significant cost commitment.

The formats that follow offer a guide for reactivating and revitalizing the workplace—ready for today and the future.

Formats for reactivating the Office

1. Solo Performance to Collaboration

Performance workspaces will propel a return to the office, but the landscape of the workplace may look a little different. High-density, permanent-address workstations may be reconfigured as workers seek more diverse choices of where to go to achieve solo focus work.

To reactivate collaboration, a percentage of square footage can be allocated to informal meeting spaces placed next to workstation clusters. Mobile work boards can be added along with components that define space, while small tables and casual seating accommodate varying postures and group sizes. Structural elements are retained to minimize disruption and allow for adaptation. Spare workstation components may be inventoried for future use.

Design Principles Used:

Collaborative areas set within the open plan facilitate spur-of-the-moment exchanges. It is essential to design such settings to draw people in, supporting inclusive group work while taking into account the design and flow of the office landscape as a whole.

Freestanding mobile screens are easy to maneuver and empower users to set their level of privacy. Performance collaborative settings with a light aesthetic are woven into the landscape to maintain an inviting openness while allowing users to easily transition from solo to collaborative work.

2. Meeting in Comfort

Meeting rooms will continue to be spaces for sharing ideas. The conventional meeting room is typically fitted with a table and chairs, digital presentation tools, and storage furniture. As a static landscape, this model provides little in the way of user adaptability and choice.

Reinvigorate meeting rooms into more agile and adaptable settings. Smaller rooms with moveable, lightly scaled furniture offer one or two users a quiet place to work, plus the ability to reorganize the space as needed. Soft seating, area rugs, and lamps add comfort and a residential tone that departs from the formality of a conference table. Larger rooms permit a mix of applications and postures, allowing groups to split into break-out sessions.

Design Principles Used:

Meeting room design must be both functional and versatile in order to support a more dynamic mode of work as people return to the office to participate in scheduled team meetings, ad hoc problem-solving, and socializing.

Juxtapose existing furniture with new elements to create settings that encourage usage, interaction, and teamwork. Focus on seating choices that permit both upright and relaxed work postures, components that support digital and analog engagement, and furniture and finishes that contribute to a warm, inviting ambiance.

3. Energize Social Spaces

Welcoming and inclusive social spaces facilitate performance collaboration. Detached social settings should be connected in a way that allows users to leverage the space in different ways throughout the day.

Unified social settings bring people together. A mix of materials and textures suggests a residential comfort and warmth that draws people in, while a mix of seating permits varied work styles and postures. Screens and surrounds can be used to set off the social space from a broader landscape. For optimum dynamics, technology carts enable digital meetings among workers.

Design Principles Used:

Employees and visitors engage with a space upon entry and immediately perceive its message. Lobbies and formal reception areas are often uninviting and under-utilized, lacking a positive presentation of company culture.

An inviting social space in place of a formal reception welcomes employees and guests to a dynamic destination rather than a “waiting area.” The communal bar encourages engagement and a variety of seating with a residential tone alludes to domestic comfort and relaxation for casual interaction.

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