As part of the run-up to PSFK CONFERENCE 2013 in New York this April, PSFK will be publishing a series of short interviews with speakers to give a taste of what will be discussed in this meeting of creative minds. Benjamin Dyett is a co-founder of Grind, an organization that aims to shake up the old concept of the office and believes that an open, flexible and green environment will breed community and fresh ideas. PSFK also examined the issue in 2013′s Future Of Work report. Benjamin detailed his vision for the future of the workspace.
Grind aims to revolutionize the workspace. What are the key changes you think need to happen to the current standard office plan?
At Grind, we truly believe that innovation, creativity, and collaboration require proximity. The standard office plan is currently full of something that contradicts this belief: walls. Our open platform is the opposite of that and a testament to the fact that our current and potential members do their best work in a bright, unrestrictive space. Traditional offices and even modern ones are also full of friction and distractions that are often referred to as ‘perks.’ Pinball machines and screening rooms are great, but do they really contribute to someone’s efficiency while at the office? The goal for any workspace should be to help its inhabitants be as productive as possible, so that they can have that perfect work/life balance that we all so desperately yearn for. These distractions are baiting people to stay at the office longer than necessary, and they’re not even realizing it. That definitely needs to change.
How will collaboration of this nature increase productivity?
By giving independent workers direct access to the knowledge and expertise of others in their community, they will naturally become more productive and build stronger businesses. We’ve already seen a lot of it at Grind. Members share a laugh at the corner of a work table or bump into each other while grabbing coffee in the cafe and the next thing you know a business deal is inked, a team is formed, a friendship is made, etc. This increased serendipity and collaboration is like networking without the cheap wine, name tags, and empty questions. It’s these genuine interactions that lead to professional and even personal growth for Grindists and other collaborative workers.
What is the single most important change you would like to see regarding the arrangement of the current office space?
The single most important change has to be the removal of walls. Knock ‘em down. Blow them up. I don’t really care what you do, but just get rid of them. You definitely need to have some private space for meetings, difficult conversations, phone calls, etc, but there should be more open space than enclosed by far.