Office furniture and design is unique to a company's brand and culture. It's never a good idea to incorporate a specific style for the sake of being trendy. These circumstances played out at one of the world's largest corporations, headquartered right here in the Bay Area.
Apple Park in Cupertino open in April of 2017 to much fanfare and media coverage. The $5 billion, 175-acre campus features the four-story, circular "spaceship" building that houses 12,000 employees. A 100,000 square foot fitness center, state-of-the-art renewable energy capabilities, and a pond are some of the perks employees enjoy at the company's corporate headquarters. But Apple decided to leave behind a constant from its old Infinite Loop headquarters - private offices for programmers and engineers. Needless to say, those folks were not happy.
The Silicon Valley Business Bureau reported that several high-level Apple employees were unhappy with sharing long tables with other people. Most of the software engineers refused to move into the new building, according to Bloomberg.
Open office critics point to Facebook as the trendsetter. The company moved from Palo Alto to Menlo Park in 2012. The new building is essentially a 10-acre single room that utilizes open office layouts. CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared it the largest open office workspace in the world. Facebook's success led many companies to copy the open office layout. A 2017 Gallup poll found that 70% of U.S. companies use open office workstations. But one company's gold is another's kryptonite.
The 2019 Work Environment Survey by Capital One affirmed that office design is unique to individual companies and cultures. The third annual edition of the survey found that 90% of office workers perform best in "well-designed" workspaces. When asked to elaborate, 71% noted design flexibility and 73% said furniture flexibility was being key to motivational office settings. These types sit the first half of the day and use standing desks after lunch. Many respondents favored open office settings. Nearly eight out of 10 workers said they perform best in "spaces for collaboration."
Eco Office project manager Matt Benak said that noise and distractions are common concerns among companies considering the trend du jour in office design.
"Open plan concept designs are definitely on the rise. People want a collaborative workspace that feels inviting and comfortable," Benak said. The challenge to this is privacy. With the open design, there is still a need for an individual’s private space."
The best way to determine the ideal office design for your company is through A/B Testing. Set up a makeshift open office layout for one department. Use existing conference tables and benches. Try and create standing desks for this group as well with books and other items stacked on desktops. Another department should work in walled-off spaces. Use portable room dividers or existing furniture to create barriers. The control group is another department that continues with the status quo.
Create measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) and evaluate each groups' performance after a given period of time. The design group with the highest productivity is where your company should focus. There are of course confounding variable, such as department-specific preferences.
Eco Office project managers work closely with clients to ensure the right design for your brand and culture. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss your office makeover.