The new citizen office

I am no expert on office furniture, but do know one particular ‘name’ – Vitra. They have a fantastic showroom in New Yorks Meatpacking District which is well worth a visit.

A very cool Vitra Sofa in New York

Vitra’s furniture is amazing. It has real Italian style in my view despite being a Swiss company. It has a price tag to match but the quality of the kit is palpable.

But what caught my eye in the week was they they have launched a new concept – the Citizen Office. You can read all about it here.

I sat in on a discussion a few weeks ago when we were talking about the way offices ‘work’. I blogged about some of the issues we spoke about here.

Vitra really are at the forefront of office design and working practices. They have spotted that employees work better in comfortable surroundings. Younger workers are wanting a ‘cool’ environment in which to work. it needs to be bright, spacious and modern. It has to encourage collaborative working – an environment where great ideas can be teased out and encouraged.

The physical structure of the office is based around a marketplace – much like a town – where people come together and ‘trade’ (ideas not goods). This is then surrounded by different forms of workstations – like neighbourhoods around the town. The whole environment is designed to motivate people. There are different forms of furniture which allow you to work whilst standing, sitting or lounging.

Work does comprise formal and informal working and this new office idea tries to encapsulate this.

The office is changing – we are becoming a knowledge based society and we will need to move with the times. This seems to be a natural step along the way. They also look really cool places to work?

The Office of the future?

I had an interesting lunch last week, hosted by Insider and with a theme about what working practices are currently and what they might look like in the future. I was part of a panel of people from various sectors in the Midlands.

A Google meeting room!

The early part of the discussion was centred around what the market is doing and the general consensus was that this was a tenants market, except perhaps in Grade A space – where the lack of supply has kept prices and deals up. This wasn’t the interesting part – as we all knew this!

The ‘panel’ did consider some interesting questions – notably what we actually do in the workplace. Much of our offices a now open plan and have become places to collaborate, but sometimes we need some protocols or strategies to allow people to work – mine is to employ an iPod! But there was a serious point, workplaces need to provide acoustic spaces and private areas – staff also need ownership. The latter can be a desk or a helping choose colours on the walls.

We touched upon The Equality Act and how that might stifle the office environment. I have strong view about this particularly legislation.

There was some amusement when a discussion ensued about the ageing nature of the workforce. The reality is that it is going to be difficult for some people to retire due to the pensions deficit. Some enlightened employers have recognised this and have installed quiet spaces. – perhaps even spaces for people to power nap (wasn’t that an 80′s thing?). Rest and recuperation may well become part of our working day, some days I feel I need it now!

Inevitably there was a section of the discussion that focused on ‘sustainability’ which generated some interesting comments. There was a very pragmatic approach which suggested that it is not always possible to build the greenest building because it can’t be afforded. Or that the users socially won’t use it. Sustainability is something that encompasses green technology, but can also be sustained in both economic and social terms.