Time Travel in Office Design

So pleased to have been asked by Carmen Natschke of The Decorating Diva to be a part of their month long series on what inspires me.

My inspiration was an office project I worked on with the most wonderful creative client. I had so much fun designing his office, music room and music library at a Fairfield County church.

To read more click here The Decorating Diva

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How to Design for the Graying Population in Your Office: The Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, the largest and most well known portion of the American landscape. Born from 1946 to 1964, boomers continue to influence the way we work. Not yet obsolete and, due to the economy, either staying in the workforce or returning in droves, boomers bring special needs and also vast knowledge and experience to your company.

So who are they?

74.6 million strong, boomers are still the economy. They were optimistic and felt that education was their birthright. With a buy now and pay later take on life, they were the wealthiest and most physically fit generation redefining the landscape and developing the suburbs. They expected that life would get better over time and for many years that was the case. They are products of the 60s and the early 70s, the Vietnam War, Watergate and the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do Baby Boomers Affect the Design of your Workplace?

Generally in the workplace, Baby Boomers are workaholics and team players who work to live. They value raises and promotions but not feedback. They are collegial, like to meet in person and, with their cell phones at hand, are available to talk with you any time. Boomers value efficient and functional workspaces and meeting rooms as well as acoustic privacy.

When I was working at what I now jokingly call a small little-known insurance company (AIG), my favorite story well illustrates the overview of Baby Boomers in the work place. Design reflected hierarchy in AIG (and most offices in Wall Street). Where you sat, who you sat next to and how your office looked was a major deal even into the nineties when I was there. It was a happy day when I moved from my cubicle next to the copy room (how many times a day do you think I was interrupted to make coffee or fix the copier even though I was the marketing manager!) and moved to a small but private office near human resources.

But on to the story… Hearkening back to the late eighties, the manager in question was recently promoted and given a brand new office.  He entered the newly designed space and promptly called in the designer demanding his ‘fuzzy, wuzzy wall’. Where was it and why was it not installed? Still cracks me up…

The Graying Workplace

You may be more familiar with universal design in the home – kitchens that accomodate wheelchairs, accessible appliances, roll in showers with grab bars etc. Workplaces must also take into account the needs of an aging population. Primary concerns are loss of hearing, loss of vision and loss of agility.

Solutions include:

  • Boomers need to be provided with quiet office spaces where they can concentrate as not only do they have aneed for acoustic privacy but also some have the beginnings of hearing loss.
  • Contrasting colors on flooring and in signage.
  • Accessible bathrooms, hallways (passages wide enough to accommodate side by side wheelchairs), cafes and kitchenettes.
  • For new construction, offices are required to provide accessible bathrooms. Please check with your local  government for public accommodation laws.

Capture their Knowledge and Experience

As boomers are beginning to retire, companies are realizing that they will lose a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience.*

As an employer, it is important to focus on capturing that knowledge via technology and encouraging a knowledge sharing collaborative culture. Design can help via shared offices, collaborative spaces and provision of appropriate updated technology.

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

*For more information on capturing the knowledge of the Baby Boomers, read ‘Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus’ by Ken Ball and Gina Gotsill.

How to Play at the Office: A Labor Day Tribute

As I rest and relax with my family on the beach, at the pool, with a game or two of mini golf squeezed in, my thoughts meandered to the meaning of Labor Day. Labor Day was declared a federal holiday in 1894 post Industrial Revolution to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers.

Usually, I post about the way we work, but today in honor of Labor Day, I want to focus on the importance of play. Whether it’s time taken on vacation, a hobby on the weekend or break in the office day, play is more important than many of us think.

If you have forgotten how to play head over to your local playground and watch the children invent all sorts of games. If you are really daring, swing. It’s an unbelievable feeling. As a ‘cure’ for my vertigo, my ENT recommended I swing on my daughter’s playground. It’s very effective and a lot of fun! And your kids will love it if you get out there and play with them.

How we define play may be vastly different. I love to take photographs, listen to music and play scrabble or solitaire and other card games. My perfect day would be spent curled up in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea and a good book. My husband prefers to play guitar or golf to relax.

“I get it; I love it; I want it; Where is it?”

In ‘The Element’, Sir Ken Robinson defines the element as the “meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion”. Being in the element people feel “more alive, more centered and more vibrant than at any other times”. Sort of sounds like play, doesn’t it? Robinson contends that we are all capable of finding this.

Most of you will know Dr. Paul Samuelson, first American to win the Nobel Prize  in Economics. He states that “As precocious youngster, I had always been good at logical manipulations and puzzle-solving IQ tests. So if economics was made for me, it can be said that I too was made for economics. Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.”

Some offices, usually tech, have figured out the importance of play and have offices that encourage it. These are often the offices most interested in attracting Generation Y (add link). These companies recognize that Generation Yers  have a different work style. They won’t be slotted into a traditional 9 to 5 job.

Bastard Store Corporate Office

Lego

You Tube

Traction Marketing Group

You Tube

Love to hear from you! Which office idea sparks your imagination?

Have a productive week,

Read more about Sir Ken Robinson, the author of The Element, or Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Paul Samuelson

(photo credits: all photos from my board Office Play on Pinterest, credits are listed on each photo)

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