Monday, October 20, 2008

Telephone Booths and Away Spaces in Workplace Design

Workplace design & strategic planning is a theme this blog will explore over the coming months. Through recent experiences designing workspaces for various commercial clients we have observed the need for increased variety of open more collaborative spaces shared by many to more private quieter spaces. This isn't necessairily a new idea but one which we had read about and heard about but now are experiencing it first-hand with our clients.

These smaller spaces are used by one, two or three to five people to assist in focus work, private conversations and the like. These smaller spaces, called various names like "telephone booths", "cave spaces", "team space", "away spaces" are generally not owned by anyone but shared by all. They aren't conference rooms per se, but something else.

Depending on the meeting style of your company, how much interaction there is between various team members and group sizes these kinds of meeting spaces may or may not be relevant. However, when they are used it can free up other areas to be more open and collaborative in spirit, more dynamic and yes even noiser. By having them in a office space planning program they can provide more flexible design of workspace and help increase employee satisfaction and possibly productivity. This can reduce overall per person workstation size and need for hard walled offices by reducing needs for privacy options at the work area by providing quieter away spaces shared by all. This can potentially save money in reduced workstation costs.

They may be able to be signed out for limited usage, used first come first serve to usage on a routine regularly repeating basis. The type of seating and furnishings can be informal such as couches, easy chairs with white boards and good lighting to tables with chairs grouped around. Sometimes these rooms can be completely unplugged with no phones intentionally for quiet work to fully wired with teleconferencing capabilities for teaming work beyond the workplace.

Special away spaces such as breast feeding rooms to quiet rooms for meditation or reflection, periodic napping can also be integrated into office programs which may enhance further work / life balance and employee wellness. Send me your examples of such spaces and let me know if they're working for you or if other solutions have presented themself to you.

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