There are many problems with traditional workplaces. One is the lack of choice for workers. For the most part, we sit in one chair, at one desk, surrounded by the same people, in the same room, with the same sensory input, for the same segments of time. While the content of our work may cause us stress from deadlines (‘anxiety’), the content of our workplace can cause us stress from boredom (‘apathy’).
It amazes me how many employers still miss this completely. For example, psychologists suggest all sorts of approaches to improve employee well-being. They may focus on scheduling, training, safety programmes, recognition, gym membership, and even lunchtime talks on family health. Not only do some of these seem a little intrusive to me, they mostly skirt around the edges of what employees do when the sit down to work.
Design, Choice and Work Performance
Others have realised the link between office design, choice and work performance. Different surveys have pointed to:
“the power of choice and autonomy to drive not only employee happiness, but also motivation and performance. We found that knowledge workers whose companies allow them to help decide when, where, and how they work were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, performed better, and viewed their company as more innovative than competitors that didn’t offer such choices.”
Choice at Facebook
For example, at Facebook headquarters, employees can choose:
- The layout, height, and configuration of their own desks
- What kind of workspace or meeting space best suits their project
- How to manage the connections between their personal, social and work lives
In the same vein, Yahoo has set the goal of creating:
“a shared workplace that would encourage face-to-face interaction, idea sharing, serendipitous interactions, and informal meetings. A work environment with few assigned desks, cafés, lounge-style seating areas, and plenty of relaxed gathering spaces both inside and outside an office are just some of the physical design solutions that support innovation, while still offering choice.”
But all this choice is only for the big boys on the block, right? Because only they could afford it? Wrong! This positive, productive array of choice is available to all freelancers, consultants and SME owners through the power of coworking. Coworking gives you the choice of where and when to work. And it can also provide choice over how and with whom.
Choice and Control at WabiSabi
But what, specifically, might this mean for coworking space design? There are many workplace strategies that enhance performance, health and wellness. WabiSabi intends to provide some of these options from the start.
- A choice between a fixed desk or shared workstation
- A choice between desk and seating type
- Personal control over ambient physical conditions (e.g. light, noise, view, colour)
- A variety of spaces that allow for different work styles, projects and energy levels
- A diverse range of coworkers from different sectors, as well as nationalities and ages
Reports show that Millennials want choice in the workplace. We at WabiSabi believe that the rest of use deserve it too. And that means you.
Image credit: Pawel Kadysz
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