Cubicle style workspaces have long provided fodder for many a dystopian view of office life set against the backdrop of beige carpeting and the hum of fluorescent lights. But as companies literally break down the wall that exist between workers in favor of more open designs, it appears this iconic piece of office furniture will soon be a thing of the past.
In today’s competitive marketplace where innovative ideas are the true measure of success, companies are seeking ways to promote collaborative thinking and problem solving, activities that can be stifled in environments where employees are relegated to isolated spaces that limit interaction.
Design is stretching to facilitate an increasingly wide range of needs in the workplace; companies strive to bring together the diverse perspectives of a highly mobile workforce, while also maximizing employees’ shared capability in a limited amount of space. Over the last two decades open office designs and campuses have risen to change how employees meet and interact around their work. Layout and design are shifting to meet the needs of each stage of the work process, adding flexibility and fluidity to the workplace.
An example from PSFK’s Future Of Work report shows industrial designer Dan Cuffaro’s vision for the interactive office. His HIVE workstations are mobile work units on swiveling casters that can be rolled to any location to find the best place to work. Featuring a work surface, storage space, LED lights and customizable panels, HIVES can be clustered near other units when working on group projects, set face-to-face when working in pairs, adjusted to take advantage of shifting natural lighting or rolled to a quiet, out-of-the-way location when focused thinking is required or necessary calls might interrupt other tasks in a shared space. The design increases opportunities for collaborative culture, while also allowing for a degree of privacy when necessary.
Another example from Future Of Work is the office layout of software developer Valve. In the spirit of their flattened company structure, each employee is given a modular desk on wheels, which they can join together with the desks of coworkers who are working on interesting projects. In this way, all the most innovative employee projects are democratically decided upon by ‘voting with your wheels,’ with the best ideas simply attracting more people. In this way, the modular office structure is an integral part of how creativity flows within the company.
Office furniture and equipment that is designed with workplace flexibility in mind are allowing spaces to be customized to suit the immediate needs of employees and projects. Ultimately, a malleable work environment has the potential to foster the free flow creativity within that space. Looking forward the look and feel of office spaces will continue to be designed with increasingly complex purpose, and take on whole new shapes. With the trend rapidly growing, it will not be long before the old-fashioned cubicle desk space will be gone completely, replaced with dynamic solutions that suit each individual workplace culture and employee.
If you’re looking for more trends, innovative ideas or themes changing the Future of Work, check out our full report for sale here or join us for our Social Media Week discussion with leading experts and industry innovators on Feb 20th. More information here.
For more exclusive PSFK Labs’ ideas, watch the summary presentation and see everything that you’ve missed so far here. Feel free to join the conversation and share your ideas about the future of work with the #FoW hashtag on Twitter.