Open plan versus private office the debate continues. It’s likely safe to say that we will end up with some composite of open and collaborative space while maintaining some private offices.
A recent Biznow article describes components of the latest emerging office design trend, dubbed, “activity-based office design”:
The latest model acknowledges that companies may have saved money establishing an open concept floor plan, but in most cases, they did not drive the innovation and collaboration desired. To combat this problem, current designs include areas such as team spaces with standing tables, comfortable couches and movable walls to encourage team meetings and collaboration. The activity-based office design also provides private spaces such as soundproof phone booths or isolation rooms in order to account for moments when intense concentration is needed, or when a confidential conversation needs to take place.
Can modern office space be too open? Is this a problem plaguing today’s office space in Boston? Some say “yes,” and are migrating towards more private office space design.
According to a recent Bisnow article, “the open office model, which was originally designed to improve collaboration, created other issues, including increased stress on employees, who struggle to focus, and high demand on support spaces, especially conference rooms.”
Dyer Brown, an architectural firm, has designed cubbies as workspaces for the Boston offices of Criteo, a tech company…[carrying an aesthetic that’s] a bright pink cubby covered in comfy cushions.
The cubbies are “a very welcoming, inviting space that you want to be in,” said Jen Taylor of Dyer Brown architectural firm. “As people spend more time in the office, comfort is a priority. Creating these informal amenity spaces that replicate the comforts of home can help companies attract and retain talent…The bold color contrasts with the cozy vibe, and ties in with ‘‘the energy and excitement’’ of the company’s fun, young office culture, Taylor said.”
Cool and creative office design can be found workdwide. Check out the top 16 according to “The Creative Workplace.”
“The big challenge with a lot of creative studios is that they started with a small group of people, and as an agency grows to 10 or 20 people, suddenly you have people with different creative processes,” [design writer Rob] Alderson says. Historically, he says, workplace culture has skewed toward extroverts, thus the Ping-Pong tables and wacky flourishes that have become cliches at tech companies and are supposed to encourage employees to interact with each other.
The cool office contestants have submitted their new digs. Please have a look and see how yours stacks up.
Bisow recently released its monthly reader pics, noting “It’s been a month since we asked for cool office space pictures, and the submissions have been coming in steadily—with about 95% of them cool (though we did get a pic of a cubicle farm, as retro ’80s as Ferris Bueller; it might be cool again in 20 years). Keep them coming to email@example.com.”
The competition for “Tech Talent” is fierce and companies are pulling out all the stops to reign supreme. Employers are thinking far beyond just compensation to recruit and retain top talent, added to the list are:
Location: Employees are demanding easy access via the T, Bus, Bike, Boat or Walk.
Amenities: Employees want abundant food, workout and after hours options.
Space: The space needs a balance of “Me Space and We Space” to foster collaboration.
Employers are additionally asking their workforce to aid them in finding top talent by offering perks such as worldwide trips.
“This is what you need to do to be competitive,” said Cayan CEO Henry Helgeson, adding that the talent battle has forced him to rethink his recruiting strategy.
This spring, workers will put the finishing touches on the Cayan renovation, which has ditched the large conference tables and swivel chairs that typically populate office common areas in favor of barstools and high-set slabs more often associated with a pub. Helgeson says people think he’s crazy for that idea, but he wants employees to be eye-level to presenters in conferences to eliminate unnecessary hierarchies, he said. Innovative spaces like these prove to be a cost-benefit for attracting and retaining top talent in the long run. After all, recruiting firms take a cut of between 20 to 30 percent of each new hire’s salary, and those costs can easily mount into the millions annually for a growing tech firm.
Coworking office space in Boston by geographic location, courtesy of Xconomy:
Andy Palmer, a Boston serial entrepreneur and angel investor, ‘thinks Boston would be best served by a series of spaces spread among different neighborhoods along the subway system’s Red Line, which touches the city’s busiest startup hubs, including Kendall Square in Cambridge and the Seaport District and Downtown Crossing in Boston. And if you look at the map, that strategy seems to be playing out…Boston’s neighborhoods “all need good, solid coworking spaces because they all have startups and founders that want to do startups in these areas,” Palmer says. “It’s healthy to have these short-term lease options in every one of these areas.”’
Have a peak at what groups are doing with their new office space.
The BBJ posted a photo gallery of InsightSquared’s new Boston HQ, and notes the following:
The new headquarters, which InsightSquared cemented with an office-warming party last week, is a far cry from where they started in 2010. Back then, they were working out of a tiny space at Bessemer Venture Partners.
“It feels great to be here,” said CEO Fred Shilmover at the company’s office-warming party last week. “It feels like our first grownup office.”
InsightSquared is backed by $27 million in venture funding and employs 170, up from less than half that amount in 2014.
As tenants find new offices they decide what to bring from their old digs and how to create the vibe that defines who they are. Have a peek at what SessionM did to define their new digs in the Seaport.
SessionM does mobile loyalty software for large enterprises. When they moved into offices in Fort Point, the company thought about office design and decoration for the first time. It had built–and invited its employees to build–everything from light fixtures to heavy wooden tables. All have a farmhouse chic kind of appeal that will be familiar if you’ve been out to almost any restaurant built in the past five years.
Boston interior designer Haley McLane designed the Fort Point space for SessionM. Working for startups is interesting, she said, because of the importance of story and culture. “Being able to take a story and put it into physical space is really an interesting challenge,” she said. “Each company is different and therefore each design challenge is different.”
What will it look like? That’s the question so many property owners and developers face when first envisioning a renovation, and thanks to Terrence Masson of Building Conversation, we will soon be able to get a much clearer idea. The company will allow architects and others to visualized a proposed building within the context of its surroundings.
“It does that through the camera of an iPad or iPhone which acts as a “window,” on top of which architectural design proposals are overlaid. This technology is known as augmented reality, which offers users a live view of a real-world environment combined with elements that are computer-generated,” according to a Bizjournals.com posting.
“In effect, you get to see and walk around a full-scale hologram of the proposed architecture through the iPad,” said Building Conversation’s CEO Terrence Masson, who founded the company with George Thrush, the director of the School of Architecture at Northeastern University…Masson started working on the technology as part of a Capstone project at Northeastern about three years ago.