IS WORKPLACE DESIGN FALL(ING) FOR HIGHER ED?

Welcome back Fall! And, welcome back all the Fall favorites: colorful leaves, pumpkin lattes, cider doughnuts, new fashion and television shows, the holiday season, football and a new school yearRegardless of your age, or how many years removed you are from graduation, Fall brings with it a renewed sense of purpose and excitement. Everyone feels they are going ‘back to school.’  Personally, I cannot help but warmly reminisce about my college years and that excitement each Fall brought as I went back to campus for a new school year.

When you reminisce about College, what do you remember?  Perhaps you remember projects, coffee breaks, deadlines, laughter, lounging, focused work, sharing Ideas, feeling inspired, sounds of the marching band practicing outside your dorm window. That description (minus the marching band) isn’t too different from current Corporate Culture being embraced by many companies.

Is Workplace Design Falling for Higher Education Design?

The University Culture has always been one to embrace Choice and recognize there are a variety of work styles. The Professor provides an assignment and it is the choice of the student to determine how, where and when to produce their best outcome.  Depending on that student, he or she may choose to work on that assignment in a ‘huddle room’ to collaborate with peers, in a favorite lounge chair at a bustling coffee shop or perhaps at a desk in a quiet library to focus. Do those work style preferences change the moment a student graduates and enters the office?  Of course not! However, past attitudes expected incoming professionals to adapt – i.e. learn how to do your work at your cubicle from 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

The Corporate Culture has shifted. 

The current attitude has evolved and companies are instead adapting to the incoming professionals - specifically millennials. In an effort to recruit the best talent, companies recognize the need to design offices which are flexible and accommodate a variety of work styles. Technology enables the freedom to work at places beyond the desk. Regardless of technology though, it is still a company decision to embrace environmental diversity and invest in a Workplace Design which promotes choice.

At Whitney we work with our Clients to design the right combination of ‘ME, WE, FREE’ spaces. Our own office is a great example of Workplace Design which provides ample options of where to work. There is the individual desk; ME Space. There are plenty of collaborative areas from the board room to small huddle rooms; WE Space.  All other space is considered FREE Space. Free space may be standing at the break room bar or working at a coffee shop after an offsite meeting. As an employee, this environmental diversity is quite appealing. 

So is Workplace Design Falling for Higher Education Design? Perhaps, or maybe it is the other way around. Regardless, these two environments are becoming blurred and embracing a similar design vocabulary. One thing is for sure, students and professionals alike share a common desire to be provided Choice. With that in mind, let’s all raise our Pumpkin Lattes and toast to a great Fall producing our best work in the Workplace of our Choice!.

Written by Fall-loving: Nora King