THREE ARTICLES GOT MY ATTENTION LAST WEEK
- “Workspaces for Women,” a post by Brittany Herrera for the Design Museum Blog
- “Don’t Get Too Comfortable at That Desk,” by Steve Lohr in the Sunday Business section of the New York Times (10.9.2017)
- “IBM, originator of remote work brings its workforce back to the office,” by Jerry Useem, in the Atlantic (November 2017)
Ms. Herrera’s post didn’t fulfill its promise, perhaps the time and space editor left the juicy parts on the cutting room floor, but she did start an interesting conversation: “do women want different workspaces than men do?” What do you think?
Mr. Lohr’s article supports the many posts and presentations that we have made about workplace choice, although his focus on phonebooths and isolation rooms tell only part of the story. I do like his use of the phrase a “palette of places.” What do you think of Frank Cuevas of IBM’s statement that office spaces are “meant” to be tweaked as needs change? Is your space designed for future tweaks?
Last is the story of IBM, who joined Yahoo and others who have told their employees who have been working remotely to come back to the office. IBM got the same criticism that Yahoo did, that this is a desperate move by a failing company. This article, however, describes both the irony that IBM was the first and biggest proponent of utilizing a remote workforce to reduce its real estate costs, and the research behind the ”back to the office” movement. Workers in very close proximity collaborate more frequently and are more productive.
At LS&A, we have an office that is divided into two basic parts – the front conference and materials library and kitchen, and the back open office with no partitions, not even low ones. We are mostly women. Everyone can work remotely, but everyone must come in a minimum of two days a week. We created the minimum because it’s better for teamwork, and “dancing backwards” (see Fred and Ginger post HERE). Our work can’t be done in a vacuum. We need input from each other, and that includes listening to each other about what each of us thinks our clients need and want. Each of our interpretations may vary, but together we are usually pretty good at getting that right. If we don’t talk to each other, we can go down the wrong rabbit hole, and that benefits no one. Sometimes the office is so quiet as we each work on our complex tasks, that suddenly one person will remember to turn on the music. Sometimes we are talking and collaborating intermittently as questions arise, without leaving our “desks”. This unplanned interaction without going to a different space is the basis for increased productivity according to the IBM article.
Most architecture and design offices look like ours, a bit of controlled chaos because we need each other and a big library to do our best work. Would you like some assistance to create your own “palette of places”? Leslie Saul & Associates can help!