An article has been making the rounds recently about Steelcase “designing for the future of work”. The company is using the coworking concept to bring the feel of entrepreneurial enterprise into corporate spaces. According to Greiner and Grazziano at Steelcase, all signs point to a future where work areas are less closed off and more communal.
In an on-site office space planning experiment, this furniture manufacturer remodeled its own cafeteria and turned it into a space for meeting, eating, and working. It has quickly become a favorite place for employees to get things done. They get to see what it’s like for business owners and mobile workers who (at least in the movies) get to start their day working in a local café instead of behind a desk.
Spreading Out May Concentrate Productivity
There’s evidence that as people become less tethered to an assigned workstation, they become more productive overall. Satisfaction increases when workers have choices about where to park their laptop to work on individual tasks or group projects. Steelcase believes having a layout that includes several work area choices will be an attractive feature for high-value job candidates. Imagine coming in for an interview and finding out that you have your own desk – and 3 or 4 other places where you can work whenever you want a change of scenery. That would certainly make you feel less caged in.
This sense of satisfaction might even grow over time as you settled in. Even if your workstation is next to an annoying coworker, you aren’t chained to your desk. When Joe in the next cubicle starts clipping his toenails or Susan starts yelling at her boyfriend on the phone, you can get up and leave – without having your pay docked. You can simply find a quiet corner to do your work or sit in with a group of coworkers you actually like. Now that’s freedom!