A meeting instead of a conference, a discussion instead of a briefing and top-down management… In search of new, more effective ways of managing and organizing work, more and more often we come to the conclusion that the most creative and efficient work is done in small teams that can communicate frequently and directly. But what would be their dream office?
The world quickly moved from closed rooms where only individuals or teams of max. 2-3 people worked, to open spaces with dozens of desks separated (or not) only with portable walls. Undoubtedly, both of these forms of office space development have their advantages and disadvantages, and they also have staunch opponents and ardent supporters. Each of them is adapted to a completely different organization of work. Which one fits with those considered to be the most effective today? As is clear from numerous studies (and practice) – none and … both. In fact, hybrids that combine the advantages of both work best.
If we just take a closer look at the most popular work systems, including agile working, the specifics of the implemented projects look completely different today than even a few years ago. In the era of dynamic technology development and even faster information flow, tasks performed in organizations today are usually short-term. It is hardly surprising – long-term plans in many areas cannot be created due to the high volatility of the environment. This in turn implies the need for high flexibility, innovation, constant adaptation and communication. No large, rigid structure can achieve that.
More and more often, projects are managed by teams of several people, which exist only as long as the project is carried out. Importantly, members of such teams can – and often do – belong also to other groups working on other tasks. Each of the employees has their own workstation, but at the same time each team needs its own. Should everyone have a separate conference room? Absolutely not. It would be an unimaginable waste of space. Modern conference rooms are the solution. When we say “modern” we don’t mean “equipped with the latest generation electronic equipment” or “decorated in accordance with the latest trends”. We are talking about rooms or rather places adapted to new forms of work. Places where a team can gather for a short time – an hour or a half – to discuss specific issues, make decisions and… return to their desks.
Office inside the office
In the case of large companies, there may be many such places for short-term but relatively frequent meetings. They do not have to be separate rooms. Small spaces skillfully separated, e.g. by means of appropriate furniture, are sufficient. Light acoustic booths in L or XL sizes as well as upholstered high back furniture are especially suitable for this purpose. A good example of the latter is the new arrival from Naughtone, the Pullman booth. This name is not accidental, as the creators of this piece of furniture were inspired by luxurious railway compartments. Pullman can comfortably accommodate 4 (smaller version) or 6 people (larger version), is equipped with a table, discreetly wired and can include a magnetic board or a TV to display presentations. Another interesting solution from Naughtone is Hue – a modular seating system that allows you to divide and develop space by creating meeting places – even in small, incommodious spaces. It can have the height of a classic sofa or a bar stool – which additionally emphasizes the informality of the arrangement. Sofas, booths and high back armchairs can also be found in the best-selling Muuto Outline collection. It is worth taking them into account when planning an elegant and harmonious office design, as the same collection also includes ordinary sofas, armchairs and benches upholstered with high-quality fabrics or leather. These high upholstered furniture constitutes a mini-office inside the actual office. The high backs of sofas and armchairs allow the team to work in peace and… silence, as they isolate office noises.
Where the surroundings are noisier, topics confidential and brainstorming usually turns into thunderstorms, fully enclosed acoustic booths, such as the Space L by Mute Design, may be more functional. Careful workmanship and selection of materials as well as appropriate lighting make this 4-person booth convenient for meetings or videoconferences. The basic equipment of these boxes includes: silent, mechanical ventilation, high-quality natural color LED lighting adapted to office work, and a media port. Additionally, Mute Design provides i.a. mono or stereo sound system suitable for sounds from mobile devices (via Bluetooth).
Coffee on the go
Another example of furniture that facilitates arranging office meeting places are models that combine seats with tables to accommodate a laptop or notes. These are also available with high upholstered backs, such as the Tacchini chillout collection. Gordon Guillaumier is another company that offers the possibility of effective combinations of high-back sofas with desks. Original, round shapes are also characteristic of the tables and upholstered furniture from the Nest collection by Plus Halle. It features both standard-height armchairs, tables, sofas and high-backs, as well as barstools. Additionally, tables and bases for upholstered furniture are available in two versions: wooden and metal.
It is worth noting that systems including high tables, barstools and sofas are very popular. They bring a decidedly informal, cafe-bar atmosphere to offices, and at the same time favor dynamic work. Furniture systems on high legs allow people passing by to join the meeting. They enable easy eye contact when conducting a conversation, whether sitting or standing. It is an important psychological aspect (lack of domination of any of the interlocutors), influencing the well-being of the interlocutors.