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Workplace


personalities? It seems harder still when the same workers have different needs at different times – times when they need quiet and concentration, times when they need activity, times when they need focused collaboration. Is it possible to find common ground among all of these seemingly contradictory inputs? The answer is balance.


The new landscape of work The most effective office spaces support a balanced variety of work environments, while also balancing the psychological needs of people with the demands of the work being done. A totally open office is ineffective, however completely closed offices are ineffective too. An effective working environment comes with the right mix – and it’s not just a question of open versus closed. There needs to be balance between formality and informality, consistency and adaptability, uniformity, and diversity. With people working on so many different kinds of projects in any single office space, achieving and maintaining that perfect balance can be a challenge. A high-octane sales team firing off sales calls to meet its monthly revenue target is going to need a different workspace than programmers trying to crack a complex coding problem, or a consultancy brainstorming their client’s solution via videoconference. Unlike the old sea of cubicles or reactionary open plan design, a balanced office has a mix of different work settings that workers and teams can move through as it suits their workday – enabling people choices based on the task at hand, or desired output of the work.


The world of work has changed, most offices haven’t The way people work has changed a great deal since the 1950s and 60s. Work then tended to be repetitive and process- driven. Today, innovation is important, new ideas, and creativity. Freedom, change and variety are encouraged. From a facilities and maintenance standpoint, it can be appealing for companies to simply install the same set of desks or cubicles across an entire floor that can be bought together and easily maintained. However, it is actually more efficient to install different types of work


environments in a single space. That’s the mistake that many offices make: they try to find a single design solution for all of their employees and all of their teams. The character of the office may vary between different sites within the same country, as well as from country to country. Every company is unique, and good office design recognises this.


References 1. Meghan Edwards, “What Is Authentic Design in the Mobile Workplace?”, Interior Design, November 11, 2014.


2. Jonathan Mahler, “Cubicles Rise in a Brave New World of Publishing,” The New York Times, November 9, 2014.


3. Marti Trewe, “Is the open office concept really superior? Maybe, maybe not,” The American Genius, November 5, 2014.


4. Steelcase, “The Privacy Crisis,” 360 Magazine, Issue 68.


5. Cisco, “Connected World Technology 2014 Report,” Cisco Systems, Inc., November 2014.


Author information


In 2013, Herman Miller introduced Living Office, an enlightened and more human-centred framework to approach contemporary office design. Continuing the company’s


legacy of leadership in the design of the modern workplace, Living Office addresses wants and needs that are fundamental to all humans, while adaptive to the unique purpose, character and activities of individuals and organisations. Ultimately, Herman Miller’s


Living Office seeks to inspire and enable a more natural and desirable workplace, fostering greater connection, creativity, productivity, and prosperity for all. To learn more about Herman


Miller’s Living Office visit www.hermanmiller.co.uk/ livingoffice


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