Walk into the headquarters of gaming company Mind Candy, and you’ll see a slide. Childish? No, not really: it’s part of the fast-growing start-up’s mission to attract and retain talent, Close explains. ‘Workspaces are being designed to foster loyalty from the workforce.’
Generate Studios is the design firm behind the slide and astroturf at Mind Candy. The team are also responsible for the space at Pact Coffee, a coffee delivery start-up based at the Biscuit Factory. There’s a coffee bar made from crates, breakout spaces and cubbyholes. The company prides itself on its lack of hierarchy. And so the office is set up to encourage flexible working, something that Liz Close says is a design trend which will only become more popular.
‘There is a continued increase in agility in the workplace. It is very interesting this relationship between loyalty and workplace design,’ Close says. ‘If you look historically, offices were not a reward for employees, they were functional places of administration. What’s happened in the last 15 years is the evolution of the networked office, where the clerical work has been largely eliminated or computerised and replaced with digital knowledge work.
She even starts to question if desks will be central to office design in the near future: ‘You don’t necessarily need to be in the office for digital knowledge work, so the workplace has become much more of a social landscape, incorporating the different elements you’d expect from a social landscape (much more emphasis on cafes and public areas, shared spaces, team rooms and break-out areas).’
And as barriers in the office start to come down, Close seems to think we’ll see fewer ‘spaces performing particular functions, whether retail or leisure or residential.’
‘But I think what is beginning to happen now is that we are seeing space as a whole, so that in the future if you’re asked to design a boutique hotel one week and someone’s house the next, you won’t work from a different model, you’ll just approach it as space. I think those boundaries will continue to erode, until we just think of workplace in flexible terms and can perform multiple functions in that space. Sky have done it well with their new campus in London.’
The team has designed the Mozilla offices at the Metal Box Factory, the Workspace headquarters - both pictured above - as well as many of the communal areas in the Workspace business centres across London. So finally what would be five easy hacks for a new and growing office to increase collaboration, creativity and productivity in their space? Close wants to keep it simple: ‘Good wireless capability; space for private thought; balanced light and air; and shared ownership.’
Book your place at the May 17 Workspace Business Insight Dinner to learn about feeding your business collaboration, innovation and creativity.
On the panel, in addition to Liz Close, you’ll find David Sheehan Managing Partner (UK) at Veldhoen + Company global market leader in Activity Based Working including LEGO’s London based ABW Hub. Also present: Artifical Intelligence (A.I.) expert Daniel Hulme, CEO of Satalia; they use algorithms to solve hard problems. Find out more here.