The idea that ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to work environments is dead.
The workplace design industry is filled with an oversimplified conversation about open vs. closed plan offices, and the truth is, it’s all irrelevant. It’s born out of a cost reduction mentality that permeates much of corporate America. Cost is important, but it should not be the driver of the whole operation.
The workplace and all of its equipment has to support the leadership goals of the organization first. The planning of spaces is in many ways similar to fashion or technology – things go in and out of style all the time. What’s actually important to understand is that each organization is different and has a set of unique requirements needed to achieve maximum performance, and their space should appropriately reflect that.
It is important to consider where the physical space and commercial real estate can provide the best value. It’s not necessarily about a real estate deal, while the deal is important; it’s more important to create a highly productive and powerful tool that can propel the organization forward and enable it to achieve its goals.
While efficiency and cost are important factors when considering a new space, it’s really about what will build the most value.
The concept of recognizing that every space should be unique to its occupiers is exemplified in Washington REIT’s space. This particular place reinforced the culture of the organization and how the desired behaviors of how employees work. It was designed to reflect the collegial and supportive culture they work in. In this office, there’s a lot of confidential financial information and deals being put together, so it was important for there to be an open portion of space for collaboration, but also to have semi-enclosed spaces so private conversations can still be made. This space is therefore tailored to the type of work that they do and has a high level of functional value in the way that the place itself is actively supporting the work dynamics taking place.