Let’s face it: unless you’re Google or AirBnB and have a massive modern office complex, your company’s workplace footprint may be confined to a single floor or two.
One assumes that in a commercial office space, there is a lot of hustle and bustle: people moving from one space to the next, engaging with each other, having great conversations, all while contributing to a healthy office culture.
But in the age of Slack notifications, email, VoIP phone systems, Zoom meeting invites, Google Hangouts, and smartphone group chats, employees are staying sedentary and isolated at their desks…because they can. There isn’t a need to stand up and walk from one side of the office to the other, or take the elevator to another floor. While this sometimes helps reduce distractions and increase longer amounts of productivity for both parties, it only works if the receiving party has notifications turned off.
This increased age of connection not only has a physical drawback, it also has a long-term negative mental effect. By decreasing the amount of interactions an employee has with his or her teams, the physical body grows stagnant in its muscular movement which then decreases circulation and also brain power. Additionally, the decrease of interpersonal interactions make it difficult to brainstorm effectively because human beings accomplish creative breakthroughs when reacting to, and in context of, another person’s physical and verbal cues.
To counteract the stagnation of 21st century office communications, solutions such as “walk-and-talk meetings,” gym membership incentives, and larger family-style cafeteria layouts have been introduced.
Another simple solution, one which we illustrate in the photos below, is to think of your office like an old-school gym. Instead of placing similar departments close to one another, try doing the opposite. This forces people to walk, think, and move differently. A “gym layout” is simply the act of placing office furniture around the workspace in a way that fosters physical movement to accomplish one activity, then another.
A simple study conducted in pre-schools showed that by moving activity areas around the room every few months, children’s brain activities increased because their environmental changes stimulated their awareness and solutions to navigate the change.
We suggest implementing modular and collaboration office furniture to accomplish a fun, gym-style layout to the office and try changing it up every year to stimulate teams, increase communications, and foster creative solutions.