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Working out of the box

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Working out of the box

It’s time to blur the edges of what we’ve traditionally considered the workplace, writes Praveen Rawal

If you come home from a tough day at work with your laptop in hand and the knowledge that you’ll be logging back on in the evening, you’re not alone. Work is pretty taxing for many people, and their physical and mental health is paying the price. While the abundance of responsibility can be inevitable at times, working conditions can step in and make all the difference. For over decades, we’ve been working inside the constraints of a box. It’s time that we jump out and explore the collaborative era where an ‘office’ can actually inspire new ways of thinking and fuel creativity. Yes, you read that correctly.

Today, offices need to be more than just loud, claustrophobic traditional hurdles. What’s missing is the balance of open plans and traditional layouts. It is time to redefine what the office means by creating workplaces that people want to work in. Here are five design principles for you to move and consequently think ‘out of the box’:


Optimism: Give workers choice and control over where and how they do their work. This means providing spaces for quiet focus work, but also collaboration spaces that can be easily modified by individuals and teams to encourage experimentation with analog and digital tools.

Mindfulness: Create environments that support focus and minimise distractions by providing a diverse range of settings for individual concentration or one-on-one connections. Empower workers to take time out of their day to rejuvenate and step away from their work to recharge and replenish their minds.

Authenticity: Allow individuals and teams to express their personalities by empowering them to select environments that best suit their preferred work styles. Encourage people to display personal items in workstations and on their computers.

Belonging: Provide social spaces that encourage personal and professional connections and enable workers to connect socially. Ensure that spaces designed for users to connect with one another are intuitive and easily accessible for both co-located and distributed teams. Create a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces that offer posture choices (sitting, standing, perching, and lounging) and encourage walking to create physical and emotional energy, stimulate the mind, improve alertness and improve focus.

Purpose: Accommodate both co-located and geographically disparate teams by creating a variety of settings for both physical and virtual collaboration. Use the physical environment to display materials and communicate team and organisational purpose. Spaces for one-on-one or small group collaborations will help foster personal connections and collaboration.

At a time when many organisations are struggling to find and retain highly-skilled talent, companies must invest in the work environment so that people feel good physically, cognitively and emotionally. Whether someone is a baby boomer or a millennial, people are looking for more than a paycheck and no one wants to feel like a cog in the wheel. It’s time to blur the edges of what we’ve traditionally considered the workplace.

The writer is the Managing Director, Steelcase, India and Southeast Asia




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