The Social Workspace

The cubicle farm is dead. If you work on a computer, you can do all that stuff at home, more efficiently and without distraction, deviation or interruption. 

But that’s work that you do on your own. 

Much of it isn’t and you need to be around people for it to really be valuable. Sometimes just being around people is enough. 

For the time being there’s no shortage of space in offices. With a little effort we can make them more social. 

Mainstream offices are made up of three types of space: work cubicles (soul destroying,) meeting rooms (never available) and boardrooms (created to intimidate).

There’s time for a new paradigm. 

The communal workspace

Instead of cubicles, think long communal desks for 6, 8, or 12 people. With enough distance to avoid crowding and yet be able to communicate, even banter, on a casual basis. People can gather in loose teams.

A group of office workers sharing a communal workspace desk
The Communal Workspace

The meeting exchange

Next level is large, open, “exchange” type meeting areas, inspired by old style clubs with loads of different types of seating. Numerous informal meetings can take place at one time, and workers can enjoy a buzzy, clubby atmosphere. 

The social workspace of 2020
The Meeting Exchange

The war room

But when you need to get a team together with a lot of materials, you need a war room. These can morph into project rooms - less formal, more digital - people can join in from elsewhere, even internationally. 

Office team presenting ideas in a shared workspace
The War Room

Much of this can be accomplished with modifications to existing office kit - the ultimate is to design one from scratch, to perfect the visual, comfort and acoustic environments. 

The result is a much more social, functional and fun space to be in. You don’t need gimmicks like ping pong and slippery dips.

And if you just want to focus for a day on your own, you can stay at home!