Design Advice / 05.12.2017
Are you a beanbag or a formal desk person?
Are you a tiki-taka total football fan or a pragmatic hoof-ball person?
In football, many fans who ten years ago were desperate to be able to play the beautiful game like the mighty Barcelona, have become disenchanted as they watch their team passing sideways and backwards for long periods of matches to retain possession of the ball. Inevitably, as the eventually is worked all the way back to the keeper, someone in the crowd will groan loudly before leaping to their feet and bellowing, “Just get it forward, you idiot!”, or words to that effect.
In fact, football teams are often not as polar opposite as they get labelled. Even ‘big’ Sam Allardyce’s teams pass the ball around a bit and silky purists Arsenal have been known to sling crosses into the box for Giroud to head in.
Similarly it’s easy to portray offices as either traditional, silent, monochrome rows of formal desks and cubicles; or thoroughly modern, brightly coloured, open spaces with funky pod seating, pool tables, computer games and beanbags everywhere. The reality, of course, is that most companies have office spaces that sit somewhere between those two extremes.
There are a number of factors that influence the contents, layout and furnishing of an office. The move to open plan office space from the 1960s onwards was supposed to promote collaborative working and accountability, as well as encouraging the egalitarian idea of having bosses and workers sharing the same space.
The idea of creatively-stimulating offices and a desire to attract and retain the brightest and best young brains has led designers to produce bold and thrilling offices with themes, colour palettes and funky furniture that would have been unimaginable even twenty years ago.
Although not everyone has a slide between floors like the one at ‘Google’ HQ, many offices now boast games consoles, pool tables, cafés and beanbags. So is this a road you should go down?
Whilst funky office design and digital media or marketing might seem like natural bedfellows, it’s hard to imagine pinstriped accountants or solicitors engaging clients on a banana beanbag over a skinny hazelnut macchiato with sugar free syrup.
Moreover, recent research suggests that many staff feel intimidated and inhibited in trendy, open-plan offices and their work suffers as a result. Surveys highlight problems of noise interference and distraction from socialising colleagues that can negatively impact productivity.
The truth is that for most people, a compromise is the best option. The term ‘destination office’ may be stretching it, but a workspace that offers the opportunity for both quiet, individual work and more sociable collaborative working using the latest design features would seem to be ideal. Whilst the colour scheme should reflect both the branding and values of the company, these can be chosen with an accompanying palette that is psychologically proven to uplift and inspire. Break-out areas and, if possible, games equipment that allow staff to exercise and get them away from their desks have proved valuable for staff health & motivation and the latest in biophillic design uses plants and natural materials to help the overall acoustic design of an office as well as providing health benefits for staff.
There is no reason why you can’t have formal work areas and meeting rooms for important clients as well as more informal and social parts of the office in order to have your cake and eat it.
So you can be both a formal desk and a beanbag person. Just like Pep Guardiola.