by Gillian Morris
At Statton Design Group, we are always on the lookout for trends in commercial interior design that will help us tailor our services and furniture selections to the changing tastes of our Dallas Fort Worth area clients. Every Tuesday we will feature a trend that has caught our attention and discuss how this trend is affecting our approach to commercial interior design with our local DFW clients and whether or not it's here to stay.
In reaction to increasingly problematic open-plan offices, many businesses are exploring designs that articulate their spaces into multiple "zones," each with a specific structure and function.
Open-plan design was once touted as the ultimate collaborative office solution and it promised increased interaction among workers as well as enhanced employee engagement. Sadly, after years of analyzing these open workplaces, experts have concluded that they fall quite short of their original aims. Recent studies have shown that worker peace of mind, productivity and focus suffer in open-plan spaces and that enclosed private office spaces "clearly outperformed" open plan designs in empirical measures of workplace quality.
Segmented or articulated spaces are the proposed solution to open-plan. The idea is simple: create separate spaces within an office, each with a distinct function, so workers can choose to inhabit various areas according to their individual needs for either privacy or collaboration.
Many large corporations have already applied this concept to their headquarters, for example, Dropbox and Square. As Dropbox's new headquarters design in San Francisco is described by Fast Company, "The finished Dropbox headquarters mixes public, semipublic, and private spaces, each catering to a different kind of employee mood. It looks almost like a warehouse of different classic film sets, where employees can choose the world they want to work in that day." Similarly, Square offices are said to have been designed to work like a city, with various zones, plazas, and avenues.
"The finished Dropbox headquarters mixes public, semipublic, and private spaces, each catering to a different kind of employee mood. It looks almost like a warehouse of different classic film sets, where employees can choose the world they want to work in that day."
The key to the success of these articulated spaces will be their flexibility to adapt to the specific and varied needs of their employees over time, something which open-plan spaces have failed to do. We will simply have to wait and observe how these new office designs might affect workplace quality in the future, for good or ill.