Four easy space hacks to help tailor your office to *you*.
As humans, we often make modifications to the environments we inhabit to better serve our needs. In some spaces we have more freedom to make changes than others. In our own homes, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the way we customize our living spaces. But what happens when we enter the workplace? This is a space that has historically allowed for very little modification possibilities. Our human nature does not get left at the door when we walk into the office, rather we take our needs, personalities, and preferences into the workplace.
The changes we make to accommodate our needs may range from plastering pictures of one’s family on any open surface, creating makeshift barriers with stacks of paper, or only communicating with coworkers digitally because there are not appropriate spaces for collaboration. With an absence of supportive environments, workplaces can become cluttered and no longer work well as creative hubs and production centers.
Some workspaces have realized that they can account for these common workplace modifications by providing objects that are designed to be customized and have hacks built in! This can come in the form of height-adjustable desks, customized office lighting, and attractive workplace accessories.
If you are experiencing a misalignment of space and people check out the tips below for ways to introduce space hacks.
Partitions and screens
In an open floor workplace some people find the need for more privacy and separation. This can have to do with different work styles or the need for less visual and auditory distraction. Others just need less socialization at work in order to be productive which might mean a little more physical separation is necessary. Thankfully partitions can provide some of this necessary workplace respite. This can be accomplished by purchasing partitions specifically designed for the workplace, having movable partitions on wheels, or using desktops computers that can double as makeshift partitions. Vitra offers a solution to this, appropriately called “hack“. This solution offers and mobile and re-configurable product that can work as a partition system when you need it to. So no need to hide behind those stacks of paper anymore!
Height adjustable desk
Sitting is the new smoking! Ever heard that? While we may not agree with this alarming statement there are reasons to offer height adjustable desks in the workplace. To account for desk sharing, storage needs, and personal preference, providing the option of standing height desks can help offer a quick solution. You can sit, you can stand, you can create a super secret fort beneath it with bean bag chairs. A company who has recognized this workplace need and risen to meet it is West Elm. At NeoCon 2016 they showed off their new adjustable height benching systems. Keep in mind Several of our PLASTARC studies show that unless standing height desks are deployed office-wide it is far less likely that one person will utilize a standing desk while everyone else around them is seated.
Within a work environment, you can create collaborative zones just by providing movable furniture like stools or chairs with handles, that employees can rearrange as needed. Spaces that serve both as heads down spaces and as collaborative spaces help to create a workplace that can serve more than one need. Knowing that the environment supports collaboration and meeting can encourage employees to seek information from one another. It is possible to have a collaborative and concentrative environment all in one, just so long as the right furniture and social cues are provided to encourage usage.
No, this does not mean bringing in even more photos of your dog dressed in that cute Halloween costume. This means bringing plants, workplace objects, and accessories like desk lamps into the workplace. One company that has nearly perfected this practice is WeWork. WeWork curates the art and objects in each of its locations. If you work in the Times Square location, you are going to see books, neon signs, and wallpaper that all harken back to the neighborhood’s seedier past. In Brooklyn you may just find some wallpaper honoring famous Brooklyn born artists like Biggie. The goal of the workplace is to create a space that has personality but is not necessarily personal. This is the difference between having books that look like they could belong in someone’s home and having every employee bring in the dog-eared copy of their favorite childhood book.
Hopefully one of these four space hacks will help solve for some of your common workplace space issues. The workplace is where many American adults spend the majority of our waking hours. Work should not be a space that depletes energy and zaps creativity. But there is a risk of this happening when people make certain modifications that clutter and distract colleagues. Companies that are able to create a sense of ownership and engagement in the workplace through the use of space hacks encourage their employees to be active participants and modify their environment in efficient ways to meet their needs.