For the November 20th episode of WorkMinus, a podcast that looks at how we work and the potential changes to improve the workplace, host Neil Miller asked himself if office building design has finally caught up with the modern knowledge worker. For Tracy Wymer, Knoll VP of Workplace, the latest planning paradigm from Knoll - Immersive Planning - directly addressed Miller's question.
Wymer argued that Immersive planning makes a shift to a people-centric approach to planning, as opposed to more traditional approaches like core and perimeter planning where the focus is around the relationship between real estate and object furniture. With Immersive planning, people's experience and daily movements dictate the delineation of space. Familiar forms and environments are still present, yet they serve a multitude of functions over the course of one work day as opposed to more rigidly defined work spaces. One of the many goals with Immersive planning is to inject a space with the same vibe of creativity and spontaneity one feels when standing in the middle of a 'town square.' On the function of today's offices, Wymer said, "It's a gathering place. It's a place for people to come together and share values. It's a place where their ideas are expressed."
In discussing productivity, Wymer cautioned that Immersive planning is not just about creating a colorful, inviting cafe space, it's about curating a range of experiences. The social center or core is still an important component of today's workplaces, but people still need to feel like there is a space for heads-down focused work. Success for Immersive planning lies in the degree of unobstructed ease user's have as they move from one type of space to another.
Understanding that workplaces can't just do a wholesale change of their layout overnight, Wymer spoke to how an immersive moment can be incorporated into an existing platform. One approach is to create a small area or corner of visual relief, one that people identify as different and having the potential to foster a new work experience. Sitting in a new space that triggers an experience unlike anything a user has felt before in their respective workplace can spur innovative thoughts and creativity.
Miller and Wymer also touched on a range of other topics, from technology to automation to levels of formality, all pertaining to the role of office building design and layout in today's workplace. In a concluding remark Wymer said, "As we look at this notion of the workplace of the future, we have a phrase that we like to say: there is no one workplace of the future, there is only change. So I think what we try to do is keep very much poised for change as we embark on the future."
Listen to the whole interview here.