The company’s mobile whiteboards and camper — designed with Studio O+A — are inspiring more creativity and flexibility in the office. This post is sponsored by IdeaPaint.
Workplace design has vastly evolved over the last 10 to 15 years. Office spaces, which were once designed to deter co-mingling, are now centered around bringing people together. Open floor plans are the norm, and panels to divide desk space keep shrinking, or don’t exist at all. While we could attribute this dramatic evolution to a generational transition (a.k.a., millennials), or to the rise of “startup culture”, this shift is rooted in something broader: the need for meaningful collaboration.
Collaboration is at the foundation of innovation, so creating space that fosters it is critical in today’s workplace. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all design for collaboration. It can vary depending on geography, vertical, department, or even company culture. This creates the demand for flexibility and variety, leading to the inspiration for mobile collaboration through design. This means creating spaces that allow for fluidity of ideas — space where people can collaborate anywhere, at any time, within an office space.
The flexible workspace
While the open office concept has contributed to a more collaborative environment, there are often few spaces that allow groups to gather and brainstorm. Conference rooms can be a viable option, but they aren’t always available, and meetings can be cut short by the next scheduled group. As a result, the momentum of the brainstorm is lost, along with creativity and new ideas. This is why alternative spaces, like lounges and standing stations, are critical for frictionless collaboration. In addition to providing alternative areas for groups to gather, people like to have the option to move around the office and work from different settings based on their mood. Providing people with a variety of spaces to work allows them to move about the office as they please, and enables them to keep their creativity flowing.
Tools to capture ideas
Another important component of mobile collaboration is providing people with tools to capture their ideas quickly wherever they may be. While the digital era has enabled a more productive workforce, it can often be a distraction to collaboration — especially if there are connectivity issues or a lack of understanding on how to properly use the technology. Some of the best brainstorms and ideas happen serendipitously, so providing people with a quick and easy way to capture their thoughts will foster more creativity and innovation — especially if they can take their ideas with them. To us, mobile whiteboards were the most obvious solution, but until recently, there weren’t many options that were functional, durable and aesthetically designed.
Most mobile whiteboards are flimsy or cheaply made, and not designed with aesthetics in mind. When not in use, they are often rolled away to storage areas so they can’t be seen, which makes them inaccessible defeats their purpose of being mobile collaboration tools. This gap in the market led to a collaboration between Studio O+A and IdeaPaint that resulted in two new products: Pivot and Hive. Hive is a traditional mobile whiteboard that is meant to inspire boundless creativity through its sleek and beautiful design. Pivot is also a mobile whiteboard with the added functionality of easily converting into a bar height table, allowing people to gather and move throughout the office for frictionless collaboration.
Many people find themselves inspired when they are surrounded by beautiful things, giving the aesthetics of these products a fundamental role in their functionality. By making collaboration products pleasing to the eye, they can become part of the office design, rather than getting rolled away and hidden like traditional mobile whiteboards. With design at the forefront, Pivot and Hive were not only created in the standard white dry erase board but also in an elegant wood surface. The writing surfaces of the boards, which are coated with IdeaPaint, are incredibly effective in terms of performance. Lastly, the durability of the boards were incredibly important, so that the touch elicits a physical response that feels as solid as the ideas that are being created and captured. Now, mobile collaboration doesn’t have to hide in a storage space.
Space to break away
In addition to the mobile whiteboards, we wanted to do something bold that took things a step further, leading to the creation of a more elaborate piece that ties together the elements of design, frictionless collaboration and a dedicated space for ideas. ThinkTank Mobile is a lightweight mobile camper covered in IdeaPaint, providing a private and dedicated space for people to gather, collaborate, and capture ideas. The open office concept has made privacy much more limited. Providing workers with space where they can focus when they are ready to turn their ideas into reality helps to foster frictionless collaboration.
Employees need space to unplug, as well as a quiet environment to collect their thoughts and bake them into ideas that stick. Many forward-thinking companies have started to provide “phone booths” and “power rooms,” which offer a quiet place to focus or solace from the overstimulation of our digital world. Power rooms usually feature tangible items, like books, board games, and puzzles to allow the mind to recharge. They also offer a space to connect with co-workers when they need a break from work, which encourages new ideas to be born. ThinkTank Mobile was created with the concept a power room in mind, serving as an ideal space for truly mobile collaboration.
While there are many elements that can contribute to a collaborative workspace, designing for collaboration is the most effective way to encourage creativity and innovation. Providing a flexible workspace, tools to capture and share ideas easily, and space to break away from common everyday distractions are key ingredients to an effective office design. As the workplace becomes more progressive and agile, design will play a critical element to truly enable boundless ideation and frictionless collaboration.