• 6 min read
the Haworth Workbook arrives
by Alex Przybyla
The Babylonian Imago Mundi – the Map of the World – is a small clay tablet about two and a half thousand years old. It is considered humanity’s ‘oldest known depiction’ of the world – and while the Imago Mundi’s geographical information may be outdated, its human information – what it tells us about ourselves – most assuredly is not.
Maps serve as our guides in an unfamiliar world. In ancient maps, where knowledge runs out, conjecture often begins. In the Imago Mundi, the familiar, known world of Babylon lies within the banks of a formidable river. The regions beyond are described in ominous terms: one is a place of complete darkness; another is the home of aggressive horned bulls; another is so vast and barren that even birds cannot cross it.
In poetic terms, this ancient map confirms a human truth we know all too well: the unknown freaks us out!
And yet, whether out of necessity or adventure, humans relentlessly venture out into uncharted territories. With every explorer who returns, our maps and guides steadily improve. And once we have trusted maps and guides to light the way, any of us can navigate the unfamiliar.
The world of hybrid work is a relatively new one. Some intrepid companies have been doing this for ages, early explorers into these untouched lands – but for most of us, it is still fresh territory.
Fortunately, even though it is unfamiliar, this new land need not be a scary one – for we have a guidebook ready to help you.
The Haworth Workbook has arrived.
Something new is here. We’ve all read the articles, flipped through the trend reports, seen the presentations. The hybrid workplace has arrived – and it is not only a replacement for physical offices; it also brings a new way of working.
In this new hybrid working world, the Workbook will be your guide.
Hybrid working has fundamentally shifted the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ of work. Employees have more flexibility with their time and more agency to choose the best place for their specific tasks; companies can spend smarter on space. 82% of respondents now work in a hybrid way as of April 2023. Hybrid work is here to stay.
All that’s left is to decide how to move forward – how best to proceed out into the uncharted waters. How can we shape our spaces to better support this new way of work? How can we replace the dehumanising elements of traditional offices with vibrant spaces that affirm and celebrate humanity?
The Workbook will help you to think through all these questions.
The Workbook is our vision of what the hybrid workplace can be at its best. It emphasises the human element – for while we often speak of ‘spaces’, it is important to remember that these spaces are not empty. They are the backdrop against which the stories of our (working) lives play out. Spaces do not thrive until the humans within them do. (At its heart, this is why we make maps – hiking trails through national parks are completed by happy hikers trekking through.)
The Workbook presents settings that are oriented around common activities in our hybrid working lives. It looks at topics that are crucial to humanising spaces, such as ergonomics, lighting, biophilia and acoustics. And it places you in the story as you go through a day in the (hybrid) life.
Next we’ll take a bird’s-eye-view of what you’ll find in the Workbook.
- The Workbook
Here’s a bird’s-eye-view of what you’ll find in the Workbook – the key sections in your guide to the hybrid workplace:
The Workbook includes nine settings that support hybrid workers. These can be implemented or echoed wherever you choose to work. These settings include hybrid meeting areas; flexible collaborative spaces; training areas; focus settings; transitional spaces; brainstorming settings; lounge areas; coworking cafes located within the office (a merging of third and second places); project team spaces; and assigned working areas.
Everything flows, said Heraclitus – or, in another ascription, everything moves. In the hybrid working era, settings flex. They support multiple activities – because they must. The Workbook takes a closer look at several settings to explore what else they can become.
Innovation happens where two unexpected ideas collide. Physical spaces are platforms for those unexpected interactions – and while great ideas may be unexpected, they are not entirely accidental or random, for great workspaces increase the likelihood of happy accidents. The Workbook examines how physical spaces can prompt us to consider related ideas – for example, dynamic ‘blank canvas’ training rooms can encourage dynamic ‘blank canvas’ brainstorming.
You are placed in the day of a hybrid worker. This allows you to experience – on a personal level – a wide range of the common hybrid themes that make up the daily rhythms of many people in the hybrid working era.
The hybrid working era has brought some new themes into the spotlight, such as flexibility and active seating. It has brought a new level of focus to classic themes like ergonomics, biophilia, acoustics and lighting. The ‘Features’ section examines these ideas in detail. These topics have always been important, connected as they are to the humanisation of the office – and as many organisations use this moment to humanise their spaces, these foundational topics become even more prominent.
Hybrid work may be relatively unfamiliar – but unlike the uncharted places beyond the borders in maps of old, it need not be a fearful thing. We hope the Workbook serves as a valuable guide as you reshape your workplace. That workspace may be your home, your office or a third space. The reshaping may be for yourself, your team, or your organisation. You may be reshaping the space for your client or your partner. No matter where and no matter for whom, we hope this workbook will help.
This is a time of change. This moment brings with it an opportunity to create a working space that is more creative, more meaningful, more productive, and more human than before.
The Workbook provides a vision for the exciting new places the hybrid workplace may go – unexplored areas just waiting for an explorer. And whatever your vision for your space might be, Haworth will be here to help make it happen.
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