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Thoughts on the Changing World of Work


After reading, “The Great Debate: Not Even a Question” by Eva Hagberg-Fisher of Herman Miller, I have some newfound thoughts on the changing world of work we live in.

Hagberg writes, “The idea that chance encounters will spark the next big thing, has been a profound driver of workplace design for nearly a decade.” She goes on to state that there is power in serendipity, randomness, and collaboration, and that it is the job of architects and designers to unleash this potential. Design is not a static one-time thing, she argues, but rather should be looked at as a subscription that keeps delivering month after month.

The idea that design can transform space from an overhead expense to a strategic business asset shouldn’t be novel. Offices serve a far greater purpose than simply housing associates during the work day and all too often companies don’t utilize flexibility in design to meet the needs of all types of workers. Flexibility comes not only from modularity and adaptability of furniture, walls, and technology, but also from flexible offerings of settings in which to work.

Her comparison of a college student choosing their own schedule and environment to help them be most successful versus an employee that has a rigid day and seating assignment really resonated with me. Once we enter the world of work, our choices are often stripped from us and we’re left to inspire ourselves as best we can. But as the article states, we’re on the edge of a new frontier and on the horizon is a new kind of workplace.

The article concludes that the next generation of office design needs to be a total synergy between people and the surroundings in which they work. This gives design the profound opportunity to rejuvenate the soul of a company and expand the depth and breadth of the conversation, rather than the debate, around workplace environments.

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