Shared spaces: A shift in the workplace

One of the most impactful conversations I’ve had with a client in visioning their ideal workspace ironically centered around the weekend rather than the workday.

“I want every day to feel like Saturday morning.”

What he meant was he wanted his employees to wake up excited to be at work. To feel in control. Inspired. Like the day could be what they made of it because they had choice—choice between early morning focused work and afternoon collaboration in a social space.

We recognize a shift in the marketplace, accelerated by several key drivers like GenY, social media and the consumerization of design, the talent war, and the rise in the need for creative spaces. And we see the notion of a new definition of inspiring spaces and ancillary populating more and more of a customer’s floor plan and spend on projects.

So how do we achieve the “Saturday morning feel” Monday through Friday? Several elements influence space design and the emotional connection to the end user.

As people are seeking more informal, authentic work spaces to help enhance creativity and provide more welcoming work environments, they’re introducing new materials. There are many facets to materiality. Color, texture and pattern have the power to inspire creativity and fuel innovation, creating authentic spaces that people are excited to work in.

Our premier partner, Steelcase has identified color families intended to spark this creativity and emotional charge—palettes representative of the jungle and lagoon, which fulfill our inherent desire to be connected to nature. The richness of saffron and honey to celebrate diversity and our global connections to people and geography. From seating fabric to tabletop surfaces to decorative accents, color is increasingly making a splash in the workspace.

Ergonomics is another big influencer in the emergence of shared spaces. It’s one thing to integrate a residential feel, but it must work for you. Can you see your computer screen without straining your neck? Do you have adequate surface area for your laptop? Can you easily and comfortably reach your keyboard?

Access to power and data is critical to successful shared spaces. Steelcase has a revolutionary product called Thread that provides power virtually anywhere, without requiring under-floor drilling or wiring. Thread has been a game changer in our workspace and for many organizations embracing the shift toward shared spaces.

While shared spaces inspire and support collaborative work, your space must also offer respite and accommodate focused work. Such spaces can be enclaves or unique seating like Steelcase’s Brody WorkLounge that boasts a privacy screen—allowing for placement in an open setting but at the same time signaling the need for quiet and individual work time.

Designated spaces for social connection are important, too. In our space, the Social Hub serves as a central lunch spot and area for visiting vendor presentations. But with booth seating and large surface areas, it’s a popular place for collaborative and solo work.

We all want to be our best when we’re in the workplace, and we expect certain, basic affordances. We want to plug in. We want to be supported, comfortable, and safe. We want to focus at times, and connect with others at various points of the day. Creativity is no longer optional but a critical skill for organizations to survive.

And you can achieve “Saturday morning” with any budget—it’s a mindset and a strategy, not a specific line item amount.

How a space performs is just as critical as how it looks and feels. Ultimately your space should inspire and reflect your organization’s culture. Are you ready to make the shift?

– Article By Mary Beth Oakes, CEO, Business Furniture