Innovative Office Design: Sexy or Counter-Productive?

A story in about a Plantronics office talked about how this office was designed for telecommunters. The focus of the article was on the corporate philosophy that supported employees working from home and the technology in the corporate headquarters that would support remote workers. Looking at this photo of the office design it appears the office was designed to drive people away – to their home office.

Plantronics Santa Cruz office - minimalist and cold

This Office is Neither Functional nor Beautiful. Read on to learn why.

This Corporate Office is Neither Beautiful Nor Functional.

  • The office is too bare, and
  • Focused individual work is being done in the open where employees are exposed to distractions.

A Minimalist Office Run Amuck.

The minimalism here is an extreme example of conceptual design that ignores the human element. This space is so bare, boring and bland that it looks like something from a SciFi movie – and not in a good way. Most of these workspaces have no access to views of nature, or even natural light. All of the materials are synthetic (with the possible exception of wood flooring in one of the small meeting rooms).

Counter-Productive Corporate Office Design

What is most troubling is that desks and workspaces are out in the open with minimal partitioning, so auditory and visual distractions invade the entire work area. Conversation areas are in separate rooms. A GlassDoor employee reviewer of Plantronics wrote that he liked working there, but if he wanted to be alone or have quiet he went to the cafeteria. This seems backward. Desks and workspace should be for quiet, focused work, while the cafeteria and meeting rooms should be for connection and conversation. Plantronics is not the only company that has their offices set-up this way. I have seen cutting-edge tech companies where employees who need quiet for focused analytical work (coding) go to the lounge and prop their laptop on their knees and work there. And no one is picking up on how counter-productive this is.

Innovation is Sexy, Spaces for Innovation are Sexy, But Creating Deliverable Products and Services Pays The Bills. You Can Have Innovative Spaces to Support Focused Solo Work.

Connection for innovation is important, but what percentage of a company’s time and resources is spent innovating and what part is spent doing the detailed work to make those innovative ideas into deliverable products and services?

Employers, do you want a “sexy” office space that meets the needs of some of your employees some of the time? Or do you want smart office space that supports both innovation and the “grunt work” that gets your products and services to market?

Contact Linda Varone to learn how to make your corporate office attractive and meet the needs of your employees.

Linda Varone’s book The Smarter Home Office makes a great gift for family, friends or yourself.

Photo by Gensler