Reimagining Office Divides
Back in the 1900s, office spaces were designed to resemble crop circles, with busy businesspeople outfitted in suites and ties or stockings and high-heeled shoes frantically typing away at their desks while staring into a black, veldt cubical divider.
Thankfully, these outdated notions of a divided workspace organised by hierarchical categories of importance are slowly beginning to fade away, along with the egotistical “my office is bigger than yours” sorts of conversations that regularly occurred around the water cooler.
Initially only reserved for creative industries, the co-working office space has evolved into so much more than just an open plan working environment, which allows for the free flow of ideas and communication between colleagues. Today, the co-working office is a budgetfriendly design concept which allows various businesses to share office space despite not sharing the same work.
With the ongoing economic recession, many businesses have had to opt for co-working office layouts in order to accommodate their own internal expansion. In a co-working office setup, businesses hire out an unused section of a larger corporate organisation, or rent out a space of their own and allow other business to share the space by contributing to the cost of the rent. The results of these co-working spaces have brought up many fascinating discoveries regarding the psychology of the work place.
For starters, co-working spaces remove the isolation of working in individual offices, and allows for more interchangeable forms of assistance. It is much easier to ask for advice and feedback when there is somebody seated across from you, than it is to ask for advice when the person is sitting behind a closed door on the other side of the room.
In co-working spaces, the time to discuss inter-office politics is drastically minimalised. With Jannie and Sannie each working for his and her own boss and dealing with their own set of internal frustrations, the opportunity for unhealthy informal discussions about company grievances have less room in which to arise.
There are other benefits derived from spaces which afford employees the chance to work with people who have chosen a different profession from their own. For many of us, how we have chosen to earn our income forms a large part of how we construct our own identity – I am a lawyer / teacher / writer, and choose to associate myself with many of the connotations which surround that profession (for example, lawyers have a way with words, teachers are good with children, writers are creative).
When we work with people who have chosen a different profession, we are given the chance to explain a part of our own identity. This strengthens our own sense of self, and contributes to a stronger work ethic. Proud in our own distinct profession, we tend to work harder as we are reminded that we are living out our own passion and our own choices.
However, co-working spaces can also create an unproductive environment which is disruptive and vexing. Some division of space does still need to be allocated in order to secure company productivity. For example, a room ought to be designated for meeting purposes only. If a discussion which will last longer than five minutes needs to take place, it ought to take place in this room, away from the communal working space. A separate lunch room ought also to be included in the design, so that employees can chat to the people around them in a space separate from those who prefer to work in silence.
Moreover, with more people working in the same space, attention ought to be paid to the interior styling of the space. Furniture needs to be chosen wisely, and getting the layout of the floor-space correct is essential in order to create a flow that fosters efficiency rather than frustration.
Cubical design working spaces are slowly becoming a distant memory along with the likes of the fax machine and CRT computer monitors. This might spell bad news for the recluse who prefers his privacy, but for everyone else, the co-working office provides a positive working environment characterised by productivity.
With the ongoing economic recession, many businesses have had to opt for co-working office layouts in order to accommodate their own internal expansion.