02/20/2024 • 3 min read

The Office Is the Hub

Ancillary spaces enhance the office experience with connection, collaboration, and culture

by Haworth, Inc.

The way we live and work has changed—an evolution catapulted forward by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work is happening in more than one location—from an integrated ecosystem with three space types: the office, home, and third places.

Many of us working remotely miss the office and all the ways it keeps us connected—especially through our unique company cultures and collaboration with coworkers. To support hybrid models for working in person and remotely, leaders will need to rethink the floorplate to accommodate what employees want: the best work experience regardless of space.

Purposeful workplace design results in the right mix of spaces that accommodate different workstyles and help people do their best work. It should incorporate variety and choice with a balance of open and enclosed spaces to support both collaborative and focused activities. Embracing a variety of workstyles and activities unlocks creativity and innovation in people, which drives employee engagement.

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A Destination for Culture, Connection, and Collaboration

In the Work from Anywhere ecosystem, the office is the hub: It’s a destination for culture, connection, and collaboration. It’s no wonder the fastest growing settings in the workplace are ancillary spaces—which are flexible, communal, and inspiring—so people can pause, gather, connect, and restore. Designing for collaboration helps create an environment where employees feel valued for their unique perspective—and ancillary spaces will enrich their experience.

Open areas can be optimized using fixed and freestanding architecture, as well as natural decor. Bringing the outside in makes us feel better, connects us with nature, and fosters well-being. Windows with access to daylight and outdoor views offer restoration and recovery, while greenery, water features, and other biophilic elements create a sense of calm and reduce stress.

Adding some focus spaces for teams (and individuals looking for an alternative to working at home) helps provide some privacy, while fostering feelings of belonging and connection between people, the company, and culture. Incorporating a variety of screens, booths, acoustic pods, and flexible interior architectural structures can create spaces that reduce unwanted noise and visual distractions to help people get work done within an open environment.

Letting People Control Their Environment

Creativity flourishes when people can control their space with flexible furnishings that encourage connection and face-to-face interaction. Thoughtfully designed spaces are important to shift behaviors or adopt a new culture—specifically to support the agility of people coming together—whether for listening, brainstorming, meeting, or socializing.

Ancillary spaces support the casual interactions that build and nurture relationships, which many people have craved since the way we live and work has changed in recent years. Taking a break to socialize with colleagues in comfortable furnishings increases people’s happiness. From the lighting to the accessories—collaborative ancillary spaces enhance the experience for everyone, with a soft, inviting aesthetic to promote well-being and energize team dynamics.

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