A series of connected settings

I recently read an article by Andrew Blum in Gensler‘s Dialogue discussing the workplace of 2006. Recognizing current competitive pressures on companies to innovate and collaborate both within and outside of their organizations, Blum explores the role of the workplace in supporting the free flow of ideas and information. He states:

Given the demands that are placed on it today, the workplace is becoming a series of connected settings that support each person’s workday while keeping him or her linked up with others across a larger social network.

To foster innovation, Blum argues, employees must have ready face-to-face access to other people. The ability to overhear each other so they can keep pace with what’s going on in the office and to see each other so they can spontaneously group together to discuss an idea or accomplish a task are key concepts in today’s workplace. Workplace design makes this happen.

The goal, then, is to create workplaces where employees feel energized, have access to the people they need, and feel free to generate ideas and initiate conversations. This might take the form of open settings, teaming areas, workbench desking, shared offices or neighborhoods, or home-like gathering places. Blum suggests that the most successful workplace design is taking its cue from retail, building culture by creating a “hospitable and engaging” experience for employees and a “‘buzz’ that helps foster a more dynamic office culture.”

This notion of the workplace as a “series of connected settings” is what I hope to explore in depth for my graduate thesis in Interior Design over the next year.

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