It’s always interesting to see how the view of the office cubicle changes based on the experience workers have with alternatives. We dug up an old Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from 2005 titled “Confessions of a Pod Man: A voice cries out from a place even lowlier than the cubicle”. In this humorous editorial piece, Mark Patinkin describes how he and his coworkers gaze with envy at cubicle dwellers with their high walls that provide privacy (and give them a vertical surface to hang stuff on). In his pod, he shares space with three other people – separated only by 6” tall dividers to keep their stuff separate. Mark describes getting to know his pod-mates charming quirks and the Herculean effort it requires to ignore tooth tapping and other noisy habits. His pod of coworkers has a little celebration when one of their number actually graduates to a cubicle. What’s funny about this news clip is that Patinkin is describing the modern open office with its emphasis on collaboration and “getting rid of the walls”. Perhaps office space designers should ask the opinion of a veteran “pod person” who has been longing for a cube of his own for the past 25 years…
Are you planning to make it out to NeoCon 2013 next month to see the latest office furniture design ideas? This year’s theme is about taking the office outside. The work of noted furniture architect Jonathon Olivares will be on display for all to see and experience. The Outdoor Office offers insights into what it would take to open up choices for where employees can work. Coffee shops and park benches both fail to provide an ideal work environment for many kinds of white collar tasks. There are too many distractions and not enough comfortable/functional furniture to support the way people really work.
More About the Collection
What coworking spaces are doing to replace the “Starbucks” workplace, Olivares intends to do for the open air workplace. He’s envisioned a set of furnishings that recreate the best of indoor working conditions (except for air conditioning) in the great outdoors. The furniture itself is quite rugged. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, “The designs are made with recycled rubber flooring, wood-plastic composites, UV resistant shade cloth and cast and extruded aluminum.” In addition to tables and seating, the collection includes structures to shield employees from the sun. This is one workspace where there’s actually a surplus of “natural light”. It’s an open plan office we can really feel enthused about.
Benefits of Outdoor Office Furniture
- For those businesses that have been wondering how to get some ROI on their landscaping, placing usable and comfortable office furniture outdoors may be a valuable option
- Workers will enjoy the fresh air and daylight as well as the sense of “playing hooky” from the office while still getting stuff done
- An outdoor setting in itself may tend to promote more physical activity since there’s more space and less sense that one is supposed to sit still
- Collaborating in an environment rich in natural stimuli may spark greater creativity among team members
Of course, there is also the matter of additional distractions in an outdoor workspace. We see Olivares’ vertical panel that looks like a section of tennis court fence as a giant version of our desk divider.
If you had the choice, would you go outside to work? Let us know in the comments.
What are you hiding in your office furniture? Check out this recent article at 3 Rings to see how trendy and attractive furniture incorporates hidden storage. Small compartments and channels allow you to tuck away office supplies and technology without distracting from the lovely lines of each piece. Their wood construction is accented with other natural materials including leather, metal, ceramic, and even wicker. While some of these designs are a little too delicate for a traditional office space, a few might find a home in your reception area. Imagine the delight of visitors when they discover that the baskets hanging below the Ability table contain snacks and swag to keep them entertained while they wait!
What do you feel like hiding in your office furniture? Does the thought of secret compartments where you can tuck away your smartphone or your wallet and keys sound appealing? Or, would you like to be able to enclose your entire desktop to make everything neat and tidy at the end of the day? Let us know your secret wishes for your workstation here.