Sitting behind a desk in an office has long been the definition of work. But office design is constantly trying to keep up with a mobile workforce that demands collaboration and flexibility anywhere they happen to call the office. Coworking spaces fostered the development of the open plan office and ergonomics demanded environmentally friendly materials for a cleaner office environment. Now, in a bold step outside the box, there are some experiential ideas afoot to take the office outdoors.
Bistros and coffee houses have long embraced the sidewalk culture. Could offices soon be doing the same? A development firm in the DC area opened a 20-seat outdoor space this summer featuring desks, chairs, electrical outlets and wireless internet services. All aimed at coaxing employees outside in the fresh air!
Called OUTBOX, the space was designed by applied technology students from Montgomery College and was open to the public weekdays from 10am to 7pm through October. Coworking is about to join the boutiques, restaurants and food trucks who regularly engage in sidewalk negotiation. The Starbucks generation has known for years the value of this type of collaboration and the creativity it can foster.
Entrepreneurs, techies, telecommuters, executives and artists were expected to take full advantage of this project and consider it an ideal opportunity to network out in the open. The challenges of traffic noise, weather conditions and the usual outdoor distractions aside, being chained to a desk in a forced-air office has documented health risks. Stepping out of the box for a change a scenery and fresh air might be just what the doctor ordered.
It’s too soon to tell how popular outdoor office design and construction will get. The genre is still being explored. But less formal workspaces are constantly popping up in major cities across the US. The tiny house movement has no doubt been the inspiration for more personal office spaces in the backyard as well. The Austin, TX, firm Sett Studio designs and markets retro-looking, one-room structures called “backyard studios.” Init Studios in England offers similarly imagined huts called “garden rooms.” Similarly, another British firm designs and sells glass-enclosed OfficePODs,
Office design is constantly evolving, and working outside the box has inspired entrepreneurs and furniture designers alike. We all know the mobile workforce is rapidly expanding, a desk is no longer a requirement. They will be leading the charge on technology and office design for the foreseeable future. Designing a pared downoffice space for optimal functionality in a mobile-driven work environment is a challenge we would love to help you solve.
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