anthropology · behavior · community · creativity · culture · mental health · play

Offices move towards more playful space design, but what kind of play is best for workspace environments?

More and more office spaces are trying to become more playful, offering employees a way to destress and/or get more creative. Usually that takes the form of having ping pong tables or video game consoles set up for breaks, but more and more offices are adding slides, swing sets, picnic tables, or other more active and engaging apparatus. They are also bringing in more greenery for workers.

This office may be the most fun in Britain as it comes kitted out with a giant helter skelter slide, a tree house and even a pub.

The unique workplace also boasts a pool table, a putting green, a giant swing and a cinema.

Office designers Space & Solutions were tasked with turning a former pub in Southampton into the home for IT company, Peer 1 Hosting.

‘If you don’t feel comfortable sitting at a desk you can sit on a picnic bench. The reality is that you can do your work from anywhere.’

Read more: UK Daily Mail

The article points out that some people may find all this fun a little distracting to actually work around. Some kinds of play are probably great at cutting stress but may be more of a time suck than creativity inducer. I’m curious what readers think. Are you one of those people who does their best work sitting on a couch, or heck, a swing? Do you prefer quiet and focus without any noise? Do you have a toy or plant on your desk you fiddle with when you’re trying to think or just need to destress?

Another question; do you actually use the toys and playful apparatus in the office? The office I currently work in has a ping pong and air hockey table, but only two people ever use the ping pong table, and I have only seen the air hockey table turned on once for a promo video.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

architecture · behavior · community · culture · design · environment

At IIDEX: Will the Office Go the Way of the Phonebooth and Mailbox? : TreeHugger

Happy Monday. Most of us are probably back at work now after the holidays. But for many of us, our work space has changed fairly dramatically in the past few years, in large part due to advances in technology. What used to be office-bound work can now be done at home in one’s slippers while simultaneously playing with your child (not that I’ve ever done that!). What does the future of work spaces look like? This article tackles that very question. The subject isn’t specifically related to playful environments, but creating spaces that are more conducive to creativity and productivity are incredibly intertwined with playful environment:

The company Teknion has been doing a serious amount of research into where the office is going, and what they should be designing and building to furnish it, and have published Phonebooths and Mailboxes to look at the future of the office.

At IIDEX: Will the Office Go the Way of the Phonebooth and Mailbox? : TreeHugger© TEKNION

Phonebooths and Mailboxes is a discussion about new technologies. Consider how quickly the cell phone replaced the pager, how quickly the fax machine was replaced by email. Mobile technology now signals one of the biggest transformations within the modern office.

more via At IIDEX: Will the Office Go the Way of the Phonebooth and Mailbox? : TreeHugger.

As awesome as flexibility with one’s work space is, there is also value with face-to-face, tangible collaboration. Plus spaces for creative work and data analysis work, or whatever kind of work, may need very different spaces.

What are your thoughts about how technology is changing what our offices look like?

community · culture · design · technology

Smashing the Cubicles – Technology Review

Typical rolltop desk
The workplace is changing. Image via Wikipedia

I just wanted to share a nice article from Technology Review discussing some of the different ways that people are adapting the typical work environment. The way we work is changing, so why not the way our workplace looks? I used to work in a cube with poor lighting and no view of the sun, so BOY let me tell you how important a good work environment can be.

The quick expansion of social and mobile technologies is creating a widely distributed workforce. To better suit employees who come into offices more sporadically, some companies and design firms are testing radically new—and more efficient—configurations for physical offices, and betting that improved technology will make the experiment more successful than similar ones in the 1990s.

A project at the headquarters of Cisco Systems in San Jose, California, for example, overthrows decades-old conventions about office space. Called Connected Workplace, it replaces individual cubicles with open clusters of wheeled desks that belong to groups, not individuals; personal belongings are largely confined to lockers.

There are no PCs at the desks, because the employees who use the space use mobile technologies, including the Cius tablet, which Cisco recently began selling to businesses. Rick Hutley, a Cisco vice president, chooses his desk according to which colleagues are present and what’s on the day’s agenda. Then he docks his Cius to a port on the desk that includes a phone handset. The tablet handles voice and video calls whether it’s docked or mobile, and it can be used to share documents at meetings.

more via Smashing the Cubicles – Technology Review.