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The Connecting Office

A communal office design space
Photo: WeWork, Flatiron

Ask anyone working at home what they miss about going to the office. It’s not going to be the commute. Probably not the interior décor. Or how great the IT system is. What they will talk about is connection.

We used to talk about the connected office- but that was all about the IT. The connecting office is one that provides for social interaction when people get together at work. Which might be brainstorming and team working, minute to minute collaboration or even the chance meetings in the sandwich shop at lunchtime.

We underestimate the social benefits of going to an office, and their effects on office spirit and culture. Team creativity depends very much on physical interactions. The full effect of forced isolation has not yet been felt. We’re running on residual creative energy and the fly-wheel has started to slow down. A return to office working will be welcome when it comes.

What does this mean for the design of an office? Just what good workspace design has always provided:

  • Group working environments based on small social groups.

  • Lots of informal meeting space that you don’t have to book.

  • War rooms or project areas that get set up for specific needs.

There’s still a need for some small private meeting rooms for sensitive conversations. But the general understanding is that if you have a solitary task that requires immersion and concentration it’s easier and more efficient to do it in your home work space.

Because it’s the connected office that now enables us all to work wherever we like. It’s the connecting office that keeps teams and culture together.


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