The Changing Face of the Office Floor Plan: This is not where your daddy used to work.
Offices today are sporting a new generation of design that favors collaboration and inclusion. These spaces focus on light, flow, flexibility, technology and communication. By flattening the hierarchy of corner offices, private offices and cubicles, the changing face of the office celebrates transparency and creates environments that cater to the needs of the team, treating team members as people and more than just employees.
Let’s Take A Tour
Welcome to our new office. Please have a seat in our lobby area, which feels a lot more like a five-star hotel than a reception area. Cue the super-friendly and helpful staff: “Can I get you a water, coffee, latte, cappuccino or (depending upon the time and nature of your visit) a cold beer?”
Walking around the office, you will see that either we just moved in or we recently renovated—and, in doing so, we ripped down all the walls that separated the spaces, and we now feature a completely “open” office floor plan. In some cases, we’ve even ripped out all those ugly things over our heads. I believe you used to call
them “dropped ceilings.” Private offices? Not so much. We feel they were restrictive, almost like “isolation caves,” and not in line with the collaborative environment we are fostering.
Instead of offices, we have airy, open workspaces, where every desk has adjustable sit-to-stand surfaces. We even designate many desk areas as flexible spaces, so you can move freely from desk to desk. For the generations that have grown up working around communal tables at Starbucks, our design offers more amenities, better lighting and infinitely better acoustics.
We have a variety of touch-down areas for our team—spaces where we can informally meet away from the distractions of our desks. We are community minded and environmentally friendly, so we have forgone the pulp-eating copiers and printers in favor of PDFs or collaboration tools such as Google Hangouts,
Microsoft Teams and Dropbox, just to name a few.
As for the rows and rows of file cabinets, we threw them all away and moved our document storage to the cloud.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a formal, stuffy boardroom; gone are the traditional, four-walled, 20-person conference rooms. Instead, you’ll see that we gutted those rooms and changed the exterior walls to glass fronts so we could enjoy the natural light. Our current mix of conference spaces now includes collaboration rooms, huddle rooms, team rooms, soft-seating lounges, rooms for private phone calls, break rooms, pantries and open spaces that are flexible for meetings or hosting events.
If you want to reserve a conference space, you can book any space on your computer, tablet or phone using our app, or just walk up to one of those cool touch panels outside the conference space and book it from there. Green means it’s open; red means it’s already booked. Oh, and by the way, if you book a room and then don’t show up there, the occupancy-detector system detects that and frees the room up after 15 minutes (and you are classified as a no-show). If no-showing becomes a reoccurring problem—you know what they say, “Three strikes and you’re out”—you might not have the opportunity to book a conference space in the future.
All of our conference facilities include videoconferencing, but not that bulky, expensive stuff. We use cool, hip, software-based platforms such as Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting and Webex.
Did you want water? A snack? Some peanuts, licorice, trail mix or yogurt? We’ve got some healthy options, as well as many ways to caffeinate your day. Our coffee bar is always open, and the pantry is stocked. Don’t worry—it’s all free and just part of our plan to make you feel comfortable and relaxed…to make you want to stay.
To make the environment productive as can be, we added a sound-masking system that greatly enhances the acoustical environment, reduces distractions, improves privacy and negates other unwanted noise throughout the space. For your listening pleasure, our overhead speaker system offers up a variety of tunes, and it is voice-activated or can be programmed. You’ll even find we have a game room where you can take a break by playing some video games or brainstorm ideas over pool, ping pong or darts. And if you need to chill, melt down or just relax, feel free to visit a wellness room or spend some time in one of our meditation spaces. Our work environment is dynamic. We don’t want our team coming to work each day to some dungeon of an office.
The Lesson to Learn
The office of today supports an ever-evolving workforce. By offering something for everyone, these environments are blending the needs of a diverse workforce and catering to baby boomers, gen X, millennials and the up-and-coming gen Z. The goal is to create spaces that are inviting and technically sound— and that reflect the personality of the companies that built them. The lesson for AV consultants, AV integrators and end users involved in planning office floors and conference facilities is to keep in mind that your clients have changed.
Because most of us involved in office planning are on the more senior side, we need to recognize the next generation has different needs than what we have been designing and implementing for in the past. I would encourage you to ensure a fair mix of end-user clients are represented at your space planning meetings. Listen to what they have to say about what they need (and don’t need), and work to create a working environment that will fit their requirements. Their needs are much more informal, social and collaborative as compared to the prior office topology. And don’t forget space for the bike racks!
About Christopher Maione, CTS-D, DSCE, DMCD
Christopher Maione is a recognized leader and expert in the AV industry with more than 28 years’ audiovisual expertise. His forward-thinking and progressive approach to business led him to found and become Managing Partner of one of the world’s leading AV consulting firms, earning the company accolades as a leader in AV solutions and technologies. Maione now focuses his attention representing owners and end users on large-scale technology projects. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.