When office interior design encourages people to work together, productivity happens. A recent survey initiated by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) found this to be the case when office interior design focused on improving accessibility – to both people and resources.
When companies create environments that invite collaboration – by providing space for people to interact – companies benefit more, compared to environments that encourage mostly individual focused work. The workplace is increasingly seen as a place where people meet to interact, instead of a place where people hunker down to do isolated work.
Companies are now finding this out for themselves, leading to new office interior designs that bring workers closer to their colleagues and to the common resources they need to get their jobs done.
More on accessibility and interior design after the jump. Read more…
Cisco Systems’ Collaborative Connected Workplace Environment, for example, tore down cubicle walls and created a campus-like office interior design that had space set apart for informal meetings and enclosed quarters for private work. Unmooring employees from assigned desks, Cisco introduced wireless LAN and IP telephony systems to allow their people to stay connected wherever they might be on campus.
Cisco set the bar for a high degree of accessibility to people and resources: while private spaces still exist for staff who need to concentrate on their work, the office interior design is largely composed of spaces for meeting and collaboration, welcoming both large and small groups. Workers even have access to overseas teams and resources, through the use of teleconferencing, interactive white boards, and instant messaging.
Cisco found two key benefits in their more open, access-friendly design.
Faster decision making: the ability to make crucial decisions are devolved to the ranks. Instead of a top-down decision workflow, strategy and action flows from and between the people who are closest to the situation, instead of executives who may be far removed from the problem.
Better group cohesion. “Providing opportunities and spaces for people to interact is important to creating the trust necessary for a collaborative working environment,” writes Doug Zucker in “What does Change Look Like?”, and he couldn’t be more on the money. Shared perspectives and experiences create a bond of trust and camaraderie between colleagues, something that just isn’t possible when the interior office design discourages close collaboration.
Cisco isn’t alone in gravitating towards office environments that tear down physical barriers. The open office design now getting more common in the workplace is most suited to an open-access, collaborative environment, although other office innovations are also encouraging collaboration on their own.
Zucker comments how law offices are changing to incorporate collaboration and socialization into their structure: “New types of spaces are being created to enhance either planned or chance interactions, incorporating an attorney lounge into the constantly shrinking library, providing interactive café spaces with amenities like cappuccino machines and spot lounges for chance encounters.”
Perhaps it’s because decision makers are wising up – changing business conditions and the need for greater corporate competitiveness leads them to resort to effective office interior design, with the need for collaboration becoming a big part of the mix. Their employees are following suit – according to the ASID survey, 90% of respondents believe improvements in office design can increase employee productivity. Wherever you look in the organization – from the corner office to the warehouse – accessibility wins!
Is there more to accessibility and office interior design? Sure! Download our white paper, and read more – download “Office Interior Design: Key Factors in Building the Ideal Office Environment” (PDF, 210KB).
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