"Me" Space Versus "We" Space
02.17.2011
Lisa Bottom in Collaboration, Focus Work, San Francisco, Workplace Design

Ever get the feeling that your workspace is shrinking? Well, you’re probably right. Recently, I spoke with CNN about this topic. And the shrinking trend is only expected to continue.

Sounds like it won’t be long until we’re all packed in like sardines, huh? But the situation is not quite as dire as it sounds. Space isn’t necessarily going away, it’s just getting redistributed from individual assigned space or “ME” space to shared spaces or “WE” space. Less space per person can mean better space for all.

Devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablet computers are everywhere, and combined with readily available Wi-Fi allow employees to work from conference rooms, cafeterias, coffee shops around the corner, and home. An office worker no longer has to be tethered to a desk to do their job. Instead they can choose the most effective place to support whatever task is at hand.

Getting a big corner office may still be the ultimate mark of office prestige, but having the flexibility to work from various locations throughout the day is increasingly valued. The coveted corner office may no longer be in the office, but at home.

In fact, I would posit that if you asked any office worker under the age of 35 the following question:

What would you rather have?

a. A big, private corner office with a desktop PC and landline phone

OR

b. A small, open workspace but with a laptop computer and mobile phone and the ability to work wherever you want?

The answer would be (B) every time.

I say this because I recently was part of a Gensler team that completed a new workplace project for United Business Media (UBM) in San Francisco. We created an open work environment that allows mobility and fosters collaboration. The ability to move the space from large, individual “ME” space and transfer the square footage to “WE” space for collaboration was part of a change that has transformed the workspace into a young, dynamic work environment.

However, since I really prefer to engage you all in the dialog, YOU tell me! (And if you are really brave, you can let us know if you are over 35, but you do not have to).

Erik Lucken
Lisa Bottom is a Principal in Gensler’s San Francisco office focused on work with law firms and professional practice organizations, as well as participation in the Product Design practice. Her passion is developing a culture of excellence in client service. Contact her at lisa_bottom@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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