Fine-tuning the Open Plan Office

By Bill LaPatra

Traditional office users continue to adopt and adapt trends pioneered by tech companies.

TECH COMPANIES have invested heavily in creating dynamic, exciting workplaces.  One of the fundamental challenges that architects working with these firms face is how to support the intense focus that software/systems engineers need to get their work done within an open office, while still encouraging collaboration, brainstorming and rejuvenating breaks. Various solutions to this design problem are now being adopted by more traditional companies and adapted to their own needs.

Islands of Personal Space

Most tech companies now occupy primarily open plan offices. For example, at one new office space for a large tech company (which prefers to remain unnamed), approximately 20 percent of the floor area is devoted to shared offices that accommodate four to six people. A few are occupied by executive leadership, but most enclosed spaces are private “huddle rooms” for project teams. Alternative workspaces — a library, a lounge and even a “secret room” that features a soundscape — entice people to take breaks from their workstations when they need intense focus, collaboration or social time.

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