What's The Best Way To Design A Work Space?

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What kind of workspace works best for you? (
What kind of workspace works best for you? (

Here's one thing we know about office design: it's often the result of fads. Cubicles, no cubicles, open design, closed meeting rooms, rotating desk assignments, standing desks, treadmill desks — even no desks.

"There is no such thing as a new office design," say Ben Waber and Jennifer Magnolfi. "We just take old ideas, put them into a kaleidoscope, and turn." And it turns out that the newest thinking about work space uses measurable data to figure out what actually works best.

If there's one key word in all of this, it's "collision." When workers have opportunities to cross paths — or "collide" — with each other during the day, productivity and creativity often go up.

The most innovative work spaces take into account lots of factors, from the very mundane, like where people sit and where the office coffee machine is located, to the more complicated, like whom they talk to during the day and how they use technology.


Ben Waber, president and CEO of Sociometric Solutions and visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab. He tweets @bwaber.

Jennifer Magnolfi, R&D consultant focusing on high-tech work environments. She tweets @magnolfi.


Harvard Business Review: Workspaces That Move People

  • "The key metric companies use to measure space—cost per square foot—is focused on efficiency. Few companies measure whether a space’s design helps or hurts performance, but they should."

This segment aired on October 14, 2014.


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