Over the past decade, the scale and nature of the workplace has changed. The strict nine-to-five grind has become less common in favor of the seemingly always-connected business environment that we live in. Many of us are guilty of firing off work e-mails or working on projects late into the night. For better or for worse, it’s a sign of the times. Although our overall approach to the workplace continues to shift in the digital age, the role of the office remains as important as ever. It’s a place that continues to connect us all.
It’s interesting to trace the historical role of the office. During the Industrial Age, the office was a place to work and nothing more. Henry Ford once said, “When we are at work we ought to be at work. When we are at play we ought to be at play. There is no use trying to mix the two.” Similarly to the factory lines of the time, offices were designed in a way to maximize productivity and efficiency. Designing an office interior meant fluorescent lighting, climate control, and 50 of the same chair/desk combinations and putting them inside of 10 identically-designed rooms.
These conditions are enough to make anyone dread the weekday schlep to his or her place of work. So this is what happened; we began staying at home. In the early days of telecommuting, the idea had many reasons for promise – skipping gridlock traffic, wearing your favorite t-shirt during the workday, unlimited coffee breaks and the promising freedom to work uncharted hours.
Telecommuting may be a welcomed change of pace to the workweek, but with moderation. It’s been well documented that working in close proximity to colleagues inevitably leads to unexpected (and potentially profitable) ideas. When Marissa Mayer first took over as CEO of Yahoo, she famously banned the company’s work-from-home policy. Mayer’s reasoning behind the banning: “people are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together” (CNN Money).
In recent years, there has been a noticeable push to combine the practical nature of work with the solace of home within the office environment. To the dismay of Henry Ford, more work environments are thoughtfully combining work and play, establishing office environments with aesthetically distinct spaces that feel as tight and cohesive as a well-curated home. This helps to bring a feeling of comfort when the hours are long and the pressure is on.
On our radar, a company that has flawlessly executed their office design is Evernote — the company that developed the popular document management app of the same name. Within their space, they’ve created large collaborative environments and well-appointed nooks to achieve the balance between collaborative and private work. To complete the design, they went with a simple plywood palette, a Herman Miller furnished lobby, communal dining room, and a staircase that doubles as stadium seating for all-hands meetings (azuremagazine.com).
Taking cues from Evernote’s lead, we’re currently redesigning our office space. Through collaborating with a few local businesses, we’re building a space that is both functional and flexible – much like our showroom, a place that captures our brand’s heart and soul. Although we’re still in the preliminary stages of this, we’ll make sure to keep you updated on our progress.
When best-achieved, the office design reflects the values and ethos of the supporting company. For my peers, as well as for myself, there has always been a desire to align with businesses that we connect with on a deeper level. When working with colleagues with similar interests, the office becomes more than a place of work, but a location to be informed and catch up with people that you genuinely care about.
A well-designed environment goes hand-in-hand with a well-curated wardrobe. Both require some thought and can be inspiring. With this idea in mind, we’re launching our “Outfit Your Office” contest. Win up to 100 shirts for your office, a fitting with our stylists and a private bourbon-tasting with Ledbury Co-founders, Paul and Paul.