Please don’t move our coffee machine

PROXIMITY, PERMISSION, PRIVACY: The three axes of workspace design.



PROXIMITY, PERMISSION, PRIVACY: The three axes of workspace design.

Surrounded by people moving boxes, laptops, cables, desks and monitors. :lol: That's been our experience over the last few days, as b-i is renovating  its Geneva headquarters.

That reminded me of an article I read a few months ago in the Harvard Business Review, called “Who Moved My Cube”, where they talked about some important aspects that should be considered so that workspaces can help to foster collaboration and creativity, but also respect privacy between colleagues.

The authors explore 3 main points, like signals that a design of a workspace should send to collaborators:

  • Proximity - it’s about the ability to drive people to public shared spaces, like water coolers or coffee machines;
  • Privacy - it’s all about people feeling confident enough to have conversations without being interrupted or overheard;
  • Finally, Permission  - it’s about letting people feel free to start conversations and by that, to share ideas with each other.

This is also one major concern for some of our clients as they try to change organizations from inside. Not only through digital tools (e.g. collaboration platforms that we are happy to design for them), but also through physical spaces.

Looking at companies like IDEO, a design firm and innovation consultancy, the authors of the HBR article explain how they allow Permission, by having Open-plan offices, portable furniture and, of course, a company policy that encourages people to move around to collaborate with whom they are working with.

 So, wrapping up....

 If you want to “move your cube” think of three main pillars: digital platforms, well-designed offices and a company policy to support all that.

… Meanwhile renovations continue at b-i’s headquarters. But please don’t move our coffee machine and water cooler. That’s where we meet colleagues to talk about different projects and pitches going on. 


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About the author

Bruno Julio
Bruno Julio

Bruno Julion is an expert on blue-infinity's User Experience team.