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Creating teaming areas and public spaces that promote the cross-pollination of ideas is here to stay.
The movement toward creating teaming areas and public spaces that promote the cross-pollination of ideas is here to stay.
When management consultants at McKinsey & Co. wanted to renovate their three-story offices in downtown Toronto, they decided to unify all three floors with a centrally located, free-floating staircase. The result: Ideas now flow up and down the open space, generating more creativity and energy. Sacrificed were multiple private offices from the old model where acquiring personal square footage was more important than fostering creativity.
Kimberly Poole, 24, a workplace strategy consultant (a nonexistent title as little as a year ago) for Dallas-based Aha! Works, says that the movement toward creating teaming areas and public spaces that promote the cross-pollination of ideas is here to stay. These creative project areas range anywhere from five beanbags nestled in a corner to an open-air workbench shared by 15 workers to McKinsey's floating staircase. In effect, the hope is to expand the community that forms around the proverbial water cooler to include the entire office.
When working with a client, Poole's job entails observing behavior patterns and workspace ergonomics, and then finding a solution-thinking outside the boundaries of established architecture when necessary. By helping to design a plan that minimized private space at McKinsey, she was able to maximize the public, inspiration-spawning spaces.
Due to almost constant technological advancement, today's
companies change and reinvent themselves so fast that they
can't afford the luxury of thinking in terms of a five-year
plan. Instead of focusing on designing landmark buildings
that remain unchanged for a hundred years, architects and
designers must now integrate flexibility into their
structures, says Jim Buter, business director for the
Educational and Institutional Cooperative, a not-for-profit
buying cooperative and leading proponent of this new
approach. "It's safe to say that this will change the shape
of architecture forever," he says.
To take part in the restructuring of the workplace, look for opportunities as an assistant or junior associate at a workspace consulting firm, rather than at an interior design or architecture studio (though experience in these fields is helpful).
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