Why do the creatives have all the fun? I recently toured the Herman Miller creative department workspaces at the Herman Miller Design Yard in Holland, Michigan. Beyond the lusting over the Eames furniture designs and deciding what to order from the barista at the coffee bar, the sustainable workplace design had me considering meeting with the Herman Miller HR department.
What do you mean I don’t have to search the Starbucks app on my smart phone for the closest Starbucks location for my morning fix? Instead of finding a cozy neighborhood coffee shop and slurping up their wifi I can just go into work? I can sit at a community coffee bar, plug in my laptop, tap into the wifi, and I can have an impromptu meeting with the VP of Higher Education design? This is the life of a creative in modern sustainable workplace design. Floating desks, no assigned seats, open floor plans, demountable glass wall conference rooms with wall sized flat screens for screen-sharing with meeting mates.
How did the interior designers get inside my head? How could they have known each day at 3:00 pm I needed a ten minute nap on a Nelson Marshmallow sofa? They even knew to incorporate lots of windows and glass walls so all workers can bask in daylighting benefits.
For those who missed the meeting in my head outlining the best elements of sustainable workplace design and want to learn more about constructing creative work environments in the workplace look up Dr. Young S. Lee’s Seven Creative Workplace Measures/Attributes©. Dr. Lee has identified the workplace environmental measures / attributes that encourage knowledge worker’s creativity and inventiveness.
- Disengage spaces
- doodle places
- unusual / fun atmosphere
- relaxing environment
- stimulating senses
- technology interface for collaboration
- balanced layout between work modes
If you are attending NeoCon 2015 you can register for the continuing education program Tuesday June 16, from 1:00pm – 2:00pm for Key Performance Indicators of Knowledge Workplace Design. Dr. Lee and his colleagues will cover the Comparative Assessment and Performance Tools for Innovate Workplace (CAPTIW). CAPTIW is a comprehensive evaluation and benchmark tool that measures how well the physical workplace supports innovation. Interior designers and creative managers are all too familiar with the relationship between the physical environment and innovative performance. Incorporating these ideas into sustainable workplace designs for more departments may be the future. If CAPTIW measurements can be used and demonstrate workers are innovative, high performing, productive and creative in these non-traditional workspaces these sustainable workplaces design may begin to show up in areas outside of the creative sector. Could the knowledge workers spaces have flexible workspaces with moveable walls and football tables in an effort to increase inventiveness and creativity along with loyalty and appreciation to their employer? Time will tell
Who Moved My Cheese?
CAPTIW may prove these contemporary work environments may not inspire the same return with the more analytical workers. The shared workspace concept is an innovative approach to sustainable workplace design that isn’t popular with everyone. Some of us get very attached to our things. Some of us also have issues when the stapler is moved an inch to the right of where it was left. However this doesn’t mean there will be negative Nancy’s floating about or a limit to the corporate employment pool because the candidates prefer gypsum walls and upholstered cubicles. Many workers find themselves gravitating to the same desk or spot at the coffee bar anyway. Kind of like yoga class – don’t nobody put their mat in my spot – namaste. Creatures of habit can still benefit from sustainable workplace design by basking in the daylighting benefits of glass walls, wearing ear buds to block out co-workers phone calls and discussions and enjoying a double skim mocha. When it’s time to freshen that mocha latte it’s just a few steps away and you’ll know everyone at the cafe! There is a silver lining in all that is creative workplace design.
For those of us who like to mix it up and appreciate truly sustainable workplace design the fluidity is charming. Knowing less virgin products are needed to create work environments, less equipment is needed because it is shared, and the entire office facility encompasses a smaller footprint because boxes didn’t need to get carved out of the whole. Each department and office space can grow or condense as the company grows or changes. I’m all for it and I appreciate that Dr. Young S. Lee has provided a tool for architects and interior designers to refer to when constructing these sustainable work environments that continue to encourage even more clever inventions and inspired solutions.