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Over the last year, we’ve been excitedly planning our new office space. If you’ve ever been through an office renovation, you have a unique appreciation for what this endeavor looks like!
You’d be surprised to learn how important being intentional with space is. Admittedly, this isn’t something I would normally think of unless there was reason to in the moment. Going through this exercise has been a much needed and growth-oriented opportunity for me as a leader in my company. What I’ve come to see is that good design, like a good voice-over, shouldn’t stand out. It blends in because good office design, like a good voice-over communicating a message, is merely a vehicle- it’s a palatable expression that supports the ultimate goal. To say it differently, the spoken word is how people hear a message. Design is how people experience their work.
Maybe all this talk has got you thinking about whether you should give office design more thought. My hope is that you will as it will teach you so much and broaden your appreciation for the more functional aspects of life.
Before getting too deep into the process, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I do in a given day?
- What specific activities do I do (list every task)?
- How long do I spend doing each task?
- Are there activities that require a quiet space?
- Where do I go to relax or take a breather?
- Can those activities take place anywhere or do I gravitate toward a particular room or area to accomplish them?
- Do I enjoy working in isolation or does being away from other people for long stretches of time make me feel like I’m going to die?
- Whom or what needs to be close to each other (adjacencies and proximity) to get the job done more efficiently or better?
* If you have multiple departments at your company, you’ll need to run through this list for each one and then determine how those realities influence your design.
Creating space to support certain kinds of work activities has played a prominent role in the overall design of our new digs. Adopting modern office design philosophy has introduced us to a new vocabulary of workplace orchestration. Over a series of workshops, I gained a clearer understanding of why it is important to factor in different modes and methods of work when architecting an environment and tailoring it to the needs and workflow of our team.
Trust me, as someone who lives in real time and relies upon concrete facts to make decisions, the initial phases of design, including conducting research, Gantt charts, blueprints and more can be challenging. Thankfully, I have a partner who lives in the realm of big picture thinking, theory and vision, translating what he sees here and there when I need clarification or have questions. His way of seeing things opens up new ways of me seeing things. Likewise, my perspective helps shape his while bringing detail and nuance to the larger picture.
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