VIP is continuously researching new design ideas and unique ways of adapting office space as the days of the traditional Open Office Plan seem to be numbered. Invented in Germany in 1950, the concept of open floor plans was to encourage more collaboration and creativity by having low or no partitions between workspaces and often times had one team sitting at one long table. Although nearly 70% of all offices in the United States had converted to this model by 2014, it has become increasingly evident that open office space may in some cases be more of a detriment than success for businesses.
It may seem obvious but one of the pitfalls of the open office plan model is decreased ability to concentrate from an expectation that all employees work best under the same circumstances, with no privacy and engrossed in loud, wide open spaces. In addition, some senior staff felt they had earned their private offices with their tenure. With that being said, the open office plan is by no means all bad and has since inspired a shift toward spaces that fit all types of employees while promoting its original intended purpose of increased collaboration and spontaneous creativity.
One group that is testing the boundaries of the open office plan and maximizing on its returns is BNY Mellon. When we began working with BNY Mellon on their CNY Innovation Center in Oriskany, New York, it was the evolution from open office space to flexible office space that inspired us. Once a sea of office cubicles, the space is being renovated into modern, collaborative workstations, small conference rooms referred to as huddle rooms, and breakout spaces allowing for impromptu collaboration and discussion. The workstations allow flexible seating arrangements as teams and project needs change. Standing workstations are available for ergonomic needs and impromptu interaction. In addition, technology has been integrated into huddle rooms and breakout spaces to maximize collaboration and meet the demands of business.
As architects, we look to help our clients challenge the norm and instead collaborate to design to meet future needs in business, technology, and growth. Office design is no longer just open floor plans of cubicles and private offices for senior staff. It is breaking away from the traditional solid walls and embracing glass to increase natural light into spaces, and acoustic materials to maintain sound levels and privacy as needed. It is about evaluating how the workstation is used and how we can integrate design with the needs of the business while engaging employees to create a collaborative, productive work environment.