This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
INSIDE TRACK


Making it Work


Simon Jackson, Principal of Gensler and IDA Council member, explores how the office environment has been changing to reflect evolving working styles.


Up until the 1950s, businesses worked within a clear command- and-control structure. The buck stopped in the corner office. The open plan set-up was a reaction against these hierarchical workplaces by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. However, these seemingly utopian ideals were then seized on by companies keen to pack as many people into one space as possible, particularly clerks and secretaries.


Opening up Herman Miller’s designer, Robert Propst, said the workplaces of the late sixties had been created for a way of life “substantially dead and gone”, adding: “Today’s office is a wasteland. It saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment. It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort.” To counter this, in 1968 he created


the Action Office system, with panels that could be disassembled and reassembled and components that could be moved to create more or less open spaces. But ironically, Propst had accidentally invented the next dreary office-space – the cube farm. This was because specifiers simply chose the sections that helped


14 BCFA and IDA DESIGNINSIDER | 2013


them save space, and jettisoned the other parts. Like an Alfred Nobel of the workplace, Propst soon rued what people did with what he had invented, saying “the cubicle-izing of people in modern corporations is monolithic insanity”. Despite this, the open-plan office


has survived remarkably intact until the present day. It has benefits – the ability to see other people, for example – as well as synergy through bumping into others and making connections. It supports teamwork, cooperation and shared knowledge between workers when they are being ‘creative’. In any case, the need for efficiency is a constant in business. However, what open plan offices do not do is provide environments in which people can concentrate. In fact, a recent television show architecture critic, Tom Dyckoff, sat in an open plan office wired to a brain machine. The reading showed his wellbeing dropping by 32 per cent, and his productivity by 15 per cent, when he tried to sustain focused work among others.


Social settings At Gensler, we have developed our client services around the idea of


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108