What makes an office a place you want to go to? The short answer is that it should nourish your mind, body, soul, and spirit.
Sounds a bit like a yoga class I know, but the truth is not far off. Several companies from Automattic to Zappos are aiming to design offices that encourage vulnerability, humor and personality. The thinking du jour is: Bring your whole self to work. Store your professional mask in the attic.
Here are three things that tomorrow’s workplace will seek to provide:
By fall, more than 12,000 Apple employees will be settled into their new home. Part theme park, part playground, part office, and yes, mostly park – the aptly named “Apple Park” represents the new blueprint for what an office can be.
Jony Ive, the designer behind Apple’s new headquarters, will carry out the swan song for his final collaboration with Steve Jobs. And what’s the chief emphasis for their vision? Movement. Whether it’s the quarter-mile hike to the office from the parking lot or climbing any of the four flights of stairs in the elevator-less “Infinite Loop” – employees will be in perpetual motion.
Research supports that staying in motion can boost creativity but it also leads to those serendipitous collisions that Jobs famously engineered during his days at Pixar. Apple is also providing nearly 2,000 custom bikes on the campus to encourage movement.
The big shift from industrial age mentality to that of the information age has been in autonomy. Work on the assembly lines didn’t allow much freedom and in many ways, employee autonomy would be a safety hazard.
Today, however, “workmanship of risk” requires openness and flexibility. How you wisely spend your day now depends on increased autonomy for you and your teams. This is not just to maximize motivation, but really to make quicker and better decisions from which the whole organization benefits.
Plants? Yes, seriously. Take a quick look at some of the world’s coolest offices and it’s evident how prevalent plants are. In fact, biophilia, the fancy term given to our impulse to want to connect with nature, is said to increase work productivity by 15 percent.
Several studies have also demonstrated that plants are good for our health, helping us boost cognition. Little surprise that Apple’s 30-acre landscape area is speckled with nearly 10,000 trees. According to the Wall Street Journal, the parkland that sits in the center of the circular offices promotes “meandering and meeting.” And of course many of the fruit trees will be harvested for real employee nourishment.
These are all things we will see more of in the office of the future. The Apple Park is really just the beginning as Lego, Twentytwo, and Shan Shui City all set the stage for the office nerd’s dream.