3 things the Open Office actually gave us

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We all know the open office concept is dying, or dead rather. The once sought after work environment of open, free, collaborative, communicative, fun, hip and trendy has finally proven itself to be inefficient, distracting, annoying and less productive than it’s predecessor. While the concept of the space and the environment are six feet under, we can’t deny a couple warm fuzzies it left us.

That being said we will have done a disservice to one of the largest design trends in the last two decades if we don’t at least appreciate a couple items it gave us;

1. Team Collaboration & Idea Sharing

Everyone out in an open area, sitting across the table from accounting, engineering, sales, IT, etc, gave us the opportunity to work as a team intimately, learn from each other and be engaged daily with the on-goings of each department. The once vast silo teams became smaller and representatives from each of their respective area were injected into a project team to accomplish more with less.

Enter Small Huddle and Team Rooms. A quiet space for small and agile teams to hash it out and get down to business. It provided a break from the chaos of an open office.

The furniture market had a hay-day with ideas and generated an entirely new vertical of design. Similar to the Audiovisual Industry, I’m sure entire companies were started to feed this new micro-meeting void.

Have you seen some of the furniture for these rooms?!?!?

It’s as if someone grabbed a bowl of traditional boardroom, mixed with a staff lounge, a drop of corporate lobby, a dash of Austin Powers, mixed it all together and baked some of the funnest and functional designs you’ve ever seen.

Heads up, as proof of the Open Office death, one of the fastest growing services from our furniture friends are what…can you guess…yep! Walls!

Back to Huddle Rooms, thankfully these rooms are filled with technology to share files, presentations and ideas almost as fast as a network or device will allow. It only seems now the challenge is how many people can we get crammed into a room and still have in view of the camera. I guess you could say these rooms can be cozy.

2. Stream Line & Flexible Communication

Now driven by team work, and practicing cross-training to suit a flexible integrated group of individuals, we had to learn to work together effectively. Communicating quickly and fiercely as ideas were discussed on demand, multiple people tasked to the same client/item/project and all within the same open space. Now add the remote office worker, with “flexible,” being the hottest trait for employers, you saw an increase in those working from “out of office.”

Cloud based platforms, and any app or software that could make you feel included regardless of location became a unified race. Software supporting quick chats, immersive video conferencing, or screen sharing was needed and the ability to feel as though you were working together right in the same room became valuable to avoid the feeling of isolation. Oh, and don’t forget this had to work from your iPad, Tablet, Laptop or any other device you felt like carrying around.

And yes, this brought you Wireless Presentation to adapt to all of those devices but that was on it’s way anyway…(cough* BYOD)

3. Ad-hoc Control & Room Scheduling

Take the technology above, throw it into multiple rooms and ensure everyone can use it, “sans manual.” With Huddle Spaces and Team Rooms being built at 3 times the rate of boardrooms, you can imagine the turnover rate on users. The days of having the “admin assistant,” or “IT,” setup the room prior to the meeting were gone. Meetings are impromptu and spontaneous now. The room has to be familiar and simple for any employee group to wander in and use. The user experience was simplified and human centered designed.

Given that the amount of rooms were multiplying and meetings were going on and off sporadically, there just had to be a way to manage this efficiently. I mean there must be some way….

(cue glorious reveal music)

Room Scheduling! Yes, it had always been there. larger manufacturers were offering it prior to this epidemic of micro-meetings but, we saw an up-rise in third party platforms, niche developers finding ways to integrate room scheduling into the new found cloud based software we were already using. Then add the hardware, the peripherals and boom. New Market. New Industry.

What does the future bring?

While the “Open Office,” is decomposing as we speak, Huddle Spaces, Team Rooms, Flexible Work Areas, Remote Workers and all the technology to support it are well planted and growing. The goal is to enhance user experience and integrate collaboration into your every day work life so that it’s a benefit to you and not a burden….. like the Open Office Concept proved to be.

Jarrod Hillman
Hillman Audio Video Inc.


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